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Tanuki, or Japanese raccoon dogs, look similar to raccoon but are of a different species. Though they look similar to raccoons, they are more closely related to wolves and foxes. Tanuki are often confused as badgers or raccoons by English speakers due to their similar appearances. Some researchers argue the tanuki can be split into multiple subspecies classes as well.
While there's some confusion in the west to identify tanuki, tanuki play a major role in Japanese mythology. Tanuki often appear in Japanese folklore as mischievous creatures. With the power to shape-shift and a master of disguise, tanuki were also regarded as gullible and absent minded. The tanuki often took human form in these stories and tricked the humans into doing their bidding. There are many stories of tanuki changing their form into humans for no other reason than to trick and humiliate them.
During your vacation with Japan Deluxe Tours, you may hear about a story or two involving a tanuki while we travel to some of Kyoto's top shrines and temples. Tanuki are also featured in various anime and video games, such as Gaara from the Naruto series who's power stems from the tanuki spirit sealed within him. Tanuki are also featured in the Super Mario Series (Mario's Tanuki Suit) and in the Ghibli Film Pom Poko where tanuki use their shape-shifting abilities to defend themselves from humans. As a popular motif in Japanese pop-culture, learn about these tricky racoon dogs while traveling with Japan Deluxe Tours.
Village of Freely Roaming Foxes
Island inhabited by mostly cats
Rabbit Island where rabbits roam freely on the island
Famous for its snow monkeys in the winter time
Yatagarasu is a three-legged crow in Japanese mythology.
Tengu are legendary creatures found in Japanese folk stories
Kappa are a yokai spirit found in traditional Japanese mythology.
Okinawa's mythical Lion-Dogs protect homes and keep bad luck away.