Racoon dogs that have shapeshifting abilities

Fun-loving, mischievous tricksters—tanuki are some of the most popular of the Yokai in Japan. Many are friendly and jovial and enjoy gambling, drinking sake, and overeating. Being omnivores, these characters also tend to run up large bills at bars and restaurants. They can be raucous and bawdy, or upright administrators and protectors.  


Their natural form resembles a cross between a raccoon and a potbellied dog. Many sport a raccoon-style mask on their faces. Often, tanuki wear a wide-brimmed straw hat with a leaf in it and carry a bottle of sake around.     


Tanuki Tea Kettle by School of Katsushika Hokusai
Tanuki are powerful shapeshifters, able to transform into items (such as tea kettles, lanterns, or stones), or people (often round-bellied priests or officials). They like to use their stomachs as a drum or imitate sounds to lure curious passers-by into the forest and get them thoroughly lost. Casting illusions for coinage to pay with is another common trick. Despite their deceptive tendencies, their presence is considered a sign of luck and good fortune. If you stick up for a tanuki, they'll repay you in kind.     
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Fun facts
In English, 'tanuki' is often translated as raccoon or badger. Though they are neither.
Most active
Night time
Commonly found in forested areas and small towns. Though they adapt well to any location.
Conservation Status
Rare, but not as endangered at the Kitsune
Related Ethnicities

Cover image: Tanukis by kazushi onishi


Author's Notes


  • Yokai.com
  • Tofugu
  • Gogonihon
  • SoraNews

  • Please Login in order to comment!
    23 Dec, 2020 18:42

    I tried to click the mature content thing and it 404'd me. Just so you're aware (pretty sure I know what the content is, though, if I know tanukis).   Interesting article. I love the whole shapeshifter thing about tanukis.

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    23 Dec, 2020 18:43

    Ignore me, apparently it worked. XD

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    23 Dec, 2020 19:17

    Good to know! I had some troubles with it too. So will check again later today. Thanks for reading! <3

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