The Tanuki or Japanese raccoon faced dog is a real creature living in the region of Japan around the Amur river. It is Canis viverriuns, nyctereutes or procionides, that belongs to the dog family.

In Japanese folklore Tanuki is a little mischievous animal who is always getting into trouble. His image often stands outside restaurants and bars. He usually appears standing upright, often wearing a vest and with a cone-shaped hat woven of rice hung over his shoulders. Already carrying two sacks of hard liquor at his side, he travels from pub to pub in search of liquor and good company.

The Tanuki has physical strength far above normal and great supernatural powers. It can change shape at will. As a goblin, the Tanuki is a peculiarly mischievous creature taking all sorts of disguises to waylay, deceive or annoy travelers. Standing by the road side on its hindlegs, it distends its belly and strikes it with its forepaws as a drum. In a priestly disguise, the Tanuki wraps itself in lotus leaves, with a lotus flower doing duty as hat. The Tanuki is also depicted in a fox like form, playing wonderful, crazy and dangerous pranks with his enormous scrotum, which measures in size exactly eight tatami mats.

Some tanuki resources
Article on Tanukis.
Wikipedia tanuki entry

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