View topic - Meaning of this statue?
Someone knows if there is any legend or other connected to it?
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Q. What is the symbol of the racoon dog (tanuki) outside a Japanese noodle (soba) shop?--Question submitted by Yvette Yamamoto.
A1. The reason you often see tanuki outside noodle shops is that there is a popular variety of soba called tanuki soba. As for the name tanuki soba, there are two explanations of its origin. The first is that it comes from a famous noodle shop in Tokyo during the late 19th century. Tanuki soba, which is Japanese noodles served with tempura batter, was first served in a small noodle shop on the Shibuya river. The shop's name has been lost to history, but its nickname was tanuki soba because it was located near the Tanuki Bashi, or Racoon Dog Bridge. When tanuki soba became popular and spread all over Japan, it retained the name of the shop where it had been invented. This information comes from the Soba Jiten (Dictionary of Soba), written by Niijima Shigeru, founder of the Laboratory for Historical Research Into the Eating of Soba.
A2. A second explanation tells us that tanuki soba gets its name from the fact that tanuki soba has pieces of a food that looks like tempura in it, but it is just tenkasu (tempura batter) without any seafood or vegetable inside. This business practice, deceptive in the manner of a tanuki, of tricking the customers into thinking that he is eating a more expensive food, gave the food its name. In the Kansai region, tanuki soba is the name for a food where udon is replaced with soba and covered with bean curd to hide the deception.
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First, a nitpick. While Tanuki are often called raccoons, their name in English is technically "raccoon dog". They look very similar to raccoons, but in fact are members of the dog family. Foxes are probably their closest relative, so it's not surprising that the one Clay posted pictures of was confused with a fox. True raccoons are native only to the Americas, but some have been introduced to Japan and are considered a pest and invasive species.
As is suggested in the posts above, Tanuki are common in Japanese fairy tales, where they often have majical powers such as changing their shape. They often use these to play tricks on people.
Also of note, male Tanuki have particularly large testicles, which are greatly exaggerated in the little statues that Txkun was talking about. These statues are found in many places in Japan. Not only outside of soba restaurants, but also people's houses. They are, according to the wikipedia, symbols of fertility and plenty.
One more fun fact: the raccoon suit in Mario 3 was inspired by Tanuki (and not true raccoons)
I would definitely recommend reading the Tanuki link from the previous post for its cultural (and anatomical humor) value. It has a picture of the statues in question, although you may have to look a little carefully to see its most famous attribute. I'm not lying that these statues are all over, at least in the Kyoto area.
And for biological info about the actual animal, check out this article:
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