The Reasons Why Raccoon (Tanuki) Figurines are at Entrances in Japan

In Japan, Tanuki ornaments are often seen decorating storefronts and house entrances.
What is the meaning behind those raccoon dogs?


Tanuki figurines special in Japan?

Shigaraki ware (Shigaraki-yaki) is a ceramic figurine produced mainly in Shigaraki Town, Koga City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.

Shigaraki ware has been produced from the Middle Ages (around the Kamakura period) to the present day, and is one of Japan’s representative ceramic production centers.

It is said that the Shigaraki tanuki figurines, which are now considered to be representative of Shigaraki ware, were created in the latter half of the 19th century.

1951, when Emperor Showa made a royal visit to Shigaraki Town, many Shigaraki tanuki figurines were set along the roadside with a small flag of the Japanese national flag. The Emperor Showa was so pleased to see the raccoon dogs along the road that he composed a Japanese poem, which was reported in the newspapers, and Shigaraki ware raccoon dogs became well known throughout Japan.

Reason for placing a tanuki figurine at the entrance

Shigaraki ware tanuki ornaments are considered lucky charms. They are placed at the entrance of stores and houses to welcome customers and guests with a smile and bring them good fortune.

The Reasons Tanuki Ornaments are Considered Good Luck Items

Symbol of strong luck and success in life

Tanuki is the Japanese word for “overtaking others”.
It has been considered a good-luck charm that brings good fortune, good luck, and success in life, with the hope of outrunning others and other companies.

Symbol of prosperity and good fortune

Since ancient times, the tanuki has been treated as a spirit representing “money,” and has been considered a symbol of prosperous business, inviting good fortune, and improving one’s financial fortune.

Symbol of Marital Fulfillment

The tanuki has been considered a symbol of “marital bliss” because of its ability to stay together with its partner for a lifetime and the strong marital love between husband and wife.

Eight Reasons Shigaraki Ware Tanuki Ornaments Bring Good Luck

Shigaraki ware tanuki figurines have eight distinctive features and are said to bring good luck, called “Hassou Engi” (eight phases of good luck).

  1. Kasa (hat)
    A kasa is a hat worn to protect the head from rain, snow, and sunlight. It has a role similar to that of a hat nowadays.
    It is a reminder to be careful on a daily basis to avoid calamity and evil and to protect oneself, just like wearing a hat.
  2. Face
    It teaches us to always smile and be amiable, and to walk the right path.
  3. Eyes
    Teaches us to be aware of our surroundings with big eyes and to see things correctly.
  4. Virtue: The bottle, Tokkuri
    The bottle-like container held in one hand is a Tokkuri.
    The “Toku 徳 ” in “Tokuri 徳利 ” is the same as the “Toku 徳 ” in “Jintoku 人徳” (human virtue) in Chinese characters. It is a wish that one will be blessed with food, and that one will also be virtuous.
  5. Passbook: A bankbook
    Hanging in the other hand is a bankbook.
    The world is like a net, reaching in all directions. Credit is the most important factor in business. The wish is that the bankbook will become trustworthy, and that we ourselves will become trustworthy.
  6. Belly
    It is wished that you will always be calm and collected, and that you will have the ability to make bold decisions.
  7. Money pouch
    Like the large testicles of the tanuki (raccoon dog), this symbol is associated with the wish to be blessed with good fortune.
    ✔ It is also believed to be based on the worship of the reproductive organs, as has been the case in many parts of the world since ancient times. The actual testicles of raccoons are not shaped like a large pouch (kinchaku) in which money is kept.
  8. Tail
    Everything must end well. Success in life is true happiness.

Recently, there are many variations of tanuki figurines. There are sitting tanukis, lying tanukis, pairs of tanukis, tanukis holding other things in their hands, and many other kinds of tanuki figurines.
Enjoy looking for various tanuki figurines!

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