Monday, November 24, 2008

11/8: Tanuki's Day Off

I can't believe I missed Tanuki's Day off!

The town of Shigaraki in Shiga gives Tanuki a break on November 8th. The tanuki is the town's favorite creature, and is the tanuki statue capital of the nation. It is the Tanuki's well-deserved day of rest and relaxation.

The tanuki has been part of Japanese folklore since the ancient days. is a symbol of fortune and good luck and can be seen at the entrances of business establishments. They are reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise but also gullible and absent-minded.These statues often wear big, cone-shaped hats and carry bottles of sake, and an empty purse in the other hand. They have large beer belles and also show humorously large balls, or nutsacks, typically hanging down to the floor.

Organizers chose November 8th for a bunch of reasons. According to Wikipedia, the eight traits of the tanuki are: (1) a bamboo hat that protects against trouble, (2) big eyes to perceive the environment and help make good decisions, (3) a sake bottle that represents virtue, (4) a big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved, (5) over-sized testicles that symbolize financial luck, (6) a promissory note that represents trust, (7) a big belly that symbolizes bold decisiveness, and (8) a friendly smile.