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Posts tagged tanuki

Kyoto tanuki

kyoto tanuki

京都の

Tanuki (狸)

狸 タヌキ tanuki raccoon dog

Until recently I thought tanuki (usually rendered in katakana, タヌキ, in Japan) were a mythological creature. It turns out there are real raccoon dogs in Japan although I haven’t seen one. The renditions you see in, and in front of, shops in Japan don’t look much like the real thing though. The real thing looks pretty much like a raccoon.

My kids really liked the tanuki statues they encountered frequently in Japan. So much so that we purchased one, and it has rested on my son’s shelf at home in Oregon ever since.

During the past week Gail has posted a couple of well-crafted blog entries dealing with a part of the tanuki anatomy my kids never recognized as such. For more on tanuki 金玉 see her posts here and here.

Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社), The End

After five posts on the topic I will lay Fushimi Inari to rest and move on to something else tomorrow.

bamboo Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社

In the above photo you get a glimpse of the bamboo groves. I don’t think they have shown up in any of my pictures so far, but there is lots of bamboo at Fushimi Inari. Although not quite as impressive as the bamboo around Arashiyama and Sagano (which I will show you at some future time), there is something magical about being surrounded by bamboo. I once lived in an apartment in Japan surrounded by bamboo groves, but that’s a story for another day too.

fudoThe banners say 腰神不動明王. 不動 (fudo) is the unmovable Buddhist god and 明王 (meio) means great king. 不動明王 means that this deity is the head of the great kings. He is pretty fearsome looking and usually is well armed. Needless to say, he is a good god to have on your side for protection. Don’t piss him off though.

The 神 character on the banner means god (kami) so there isn’t much mystery there. 腰 is a bit of a puzzle however. 腰 means waist or hips. Given that some of the other characters on the banner mean protection of the lower body, I’m guessing that this is some sort of offering place for those with bad hips and legs?

As you can see, you can get help for just about anything at Fushimi Inari. It’s your one-stop offering center for just about any wishes you need to have fulfilled.

fox statue kitsune Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社

Along with tons of torii, there are tons of kitsune here. I’ve shown you only a few. The foxes usually have a red bib on. The red bibs are to ward off evil. Why bibs? You’ll see them on all kinds of statues in Japan, not just foxes. The bibs are related to children, particularly in keeping evil, disease, etc. from infants and small kids.

In the background you can also see some frog statues with the red bibs on. This place really covers all the bases.

The foxes usually have something in their mouths. As the symbol of the harvest (grains, rice, cereals, etc.), that something is frequently a key to the grain storehouse.

shinto prayer Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社

In the above picture my daughter is getting into the Shinto way of things. I asked her what she wished for, and she said, “to come back to Japan.” It looks like that is going to happen so this Shinto stuff seems to work!

You can see some more shimenawa in this shot.

tanuki Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社

My son immediately became a fan of tanuki (Japanese racoon dog) and now has one sitting on his shelf back home in Oregon. You can find a wide variety of lucky charms at Fushimi Inari. In this picture alone you can see tanuki, maneki neko (beckoning cat with raised paw), kaeru (frog), fukuro (owl), and daruma (達磨, dharma doll).

Fushimi Inari Taisha is about the only major shrine in the Kyoto area that is completely free. Directions are very simple as it is right next to the train station with the same name. Here is a map.

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