Dating artwork - Chatham girl cam
More surprisingly, most of these attributes were created in very modern times (in the last three centuries; see Tanuki in Modern Times).Although the Japanese continue to classify Tanuki as a yōkai 妖怪 (monster, spirit, specter, fantastic/strange being), the creature today is no longer frightening or mysterious.
Many centuries later in Japan, they evolved into irrepressible tricksters, aiming their illusory magic and mystifying belly-drum music at unwary travelers, hunters, woodsmen, and monks.
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This annotated narrative is based on extant Tanuki art (175 photos herein).
Instead, it has shape-changed into a harmless and amusing fellow, one more interested in encouraging generosity and cheerfulness among winers and diners than in annoying humankind with its tricks.
Tanuki are also portrayed as cute and lovable characters in modern cartoons and movies -- even as mascots in commercial campaigns. It is often confused with the badger (ana-guma) and the raccoon (arai-guma).
Ceramic statues of Tanuki are found everywhere in modern Japan, especially outside bars and restaurants, where a pudgy Tanuki effigy typically beckons drinkers and diners to enter and spend generously (a role similar to Maneki Neko, the Beckoning Cat, who stands outside retail establishments.) In his modern form, the fun-loving Tanuki is commonly depicted with a big tummy, a straw hat, a bewildered facial expression (he is easily duped), a giant scrotum, a staff attached to a sake flask, and a promissory note (that he never pays).
Many of these attributes suggest his money was wasted on wine, women, and food (but this is incorrect; see below).
In old Japan, Tanuki were hunted for their meat (reputed to have medicinal qualities), their fur (used for brushes and clothing) and their scrotal skin (used as a malleable sack for hammering gold into gold leaf).
They live in burrows, and come out after sunset until the wee hours of the morning.
Nonetheless, for decades, Western scholars have mistranslated Tanuki as “badger” or “racoon-dog.” This is clearly wrong, but can be forgiven -- the Tanuki does, in fact, look badger-like, racoon-like, and fox-like.
Furthermore, such mistranslations are compounded by the Japanese themselves, who have likewise confused these animals in their folklore and artwork.
In general, the goofy-looking Tanuki we are familiar with today is a recent creation, mostly Japanese.