•About this Yokai: Bake-danuki (JP: 化け狸) are Tanuki (たぬき) that have transformed into yokai after living a long life. - Often translated into English as "Japanese raccoon-dogs" - in reality, Tanuki are actually much more closely related to foxes & badgers, rather than a raccoons or dogs...
• In folklore: Most Tanuki, for lack of a better phrase are "mischievous country bumpkins" unlike the sly, sneaky, yet refined Kitsune, Tanuki are far more jolly & mischievous, likely to use their powers for general mischief or for their own personal amusement & gain.
Tanuki are powerful shapeshifters often transforming into other more powerful yokai [Mikoshi-Nyudo & Nopperabo are often said to be tanuki in disguise. - Inanimate objects such as Tea Kettles & Jizo statues are a couple of their other favourite disguises. - in older picture scrolls if you ever see a yokai or an item with furry legs, its likely a tanuki in disguise.]
In addition to being able to transform themselves, they're also known to be able to transform certain objects, such as pebbles into to gold, leaves into money & feces into extravagant meals, these items are an illusion and soon transform back to what they used to be.
Kitsune and Tanuki are frequently depicted as rivals in folk stories and pop culture. A famous saying goes; while Kitsune have 7 disguises, The tanuki have 8!! - In slang "Tanuki gao" can refer to a fat, cute, chubby face (or a person's facial expression of feigned ignorance) in contrast "Kitsune gao" refers to people with narrow faces and high cheekbones (or an otherwise sneaky expression.
Shiragaki Tanuki: are clay statues similar to a lawn gnome or more appropreately a maneki neko, originating from the town of shiragaki (信楽町) Dozens of these where sculpted in 1951 when the emperor showa visited – its said that The emperor was so moved by the sight, that he wrote a poem about his visit! Ever since then the clay tanuki have become immensely popular as a part of local tourism & a popular souvenir. – The statues often serve a similar function to lucky cats and are frequently seen outside of shops and diners in hopes of drumming up buisiness. [Particularly shops that sell sake!] – Hassouengi: Shiragaki Tanuki statues generally have 8 features known as the "hassouengi"
These 8 lucky features include...
- The Tanukis Wide protective sun hat.
- The Tanukis attentive big eyes.
- The Tanukis winning smile.
- The Tanukis big bushy tail.
- The Tanukis bank note (which always reads I.O.U.)
- The White Sake bottle. (with the number 8 on it.)
- The Tanukis Big Belly (for drumming)
- The Tanukis "Money Sack" & Kintama ("Golden balls") - Artwork from the edo period frequently depicts tanuki with gigantic testicles (an allegory for wealth) in the past, goldsmiths would often use tanukis rubbery testicle pelts as a wrap in the process of hammering gold nuggets into leaf. This is a big reason as to why testicles are often referred to as golden balls, and also why Big balls = financial luck! –Tanuki use these for transformation & have an array of other practical uses including: Blankets, Parachutes, Wardrums, Boats, Fishing nets, Target practice and Blunt weapons to name a few [see the last pic for more examples.]
A famous saying goes; while Kitsune have 7 disguises, The tanuki have 8!!
"Tan-tan-tanuki no kintama wa ~ Kaze mo nai no ni bura bura" – A childrens folksong about Tanuki balls.)