Just bought myself a little tanuki figurine on ebay. The seller has several more left in a few different poses, so hurry up and buy them while they last! For those who 1) aren't japanese, or 2) haven't read Villa Incognito,here's the deal (from wikipedia):
The current humorous image of tanuki is thought to have been developed during the Kamakura era. Tom Robbins' recent book Villa Incognito has also done much to spread awareness of tanuki, especially in America. The wild tanuki has unusually large testicles, a feature often comically exaggerated in artistic depictions of tanuki. Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like a traveller's pack, or using them as drums. Tanuki are also typically depicted as having large bellies. They may be shown drumming on their bellies instead of their testicles, especially in children's art.
I just think the little bastards are hilarious. As I understand it, they're usually shown wearing a big straw hat, carrying a sake bottle in one hand and an IOU in the other. They're the patrons of restauranteurs and especially those who run sake shops. Apparently, large statues of them are found in sake shops in Japan. This guy is only a few inches long. But my dream is to commission a tanuki from one of the local chainsaw log carvers, and place him prominently in my garden. I wonder how many would notice that the bowling balls that sit in front of him are actually his testicles?!?
Oh, and there's a real tanuki, too. Lives in the woods of Japan. It's sometimes called a racoon dog, and it looks almost nothing like the tanuki of fable. And it apparently doesn't drink sake, talk, or play drum solos on its balls. So, don't bother me with reality. 'kay?