According to Japanese Folklore, the Tanuki is said to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shape-shifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded.
The Tanuki has eight special traits that bring good fortune:
- A hat to protect against trouble of bad weather
- Big eyes to perceive the environment and help make good decisions
- A sake bottle that represents virtue
- A big tail that promotes steadiness and strength until success is achieved
- An over-sized scrotum that symbolizes financial luck
- A promissory note that represents trust or confidence
- A big belly that symbolizes bold and calm decisiveness
- A friendly smile
The ceramic statues available all over Japan are Shigaraki ware, a style of pottery long associated with Tanuki imagery.
Tanuki often appears in popular culture in video games, movies, and manga/anime.
Tanuki udon contains flakes of fried tempura batter (“tenkasu“), while kitsune udon contains fried tofu (“abura-age“).