AWAJI / SHIKOKU

8 Tanuki challenge around Sumoto!

We currently have both kids at home because of Covid 19 so to give today a different flavour we went on the Sumoto tanuki challenge! We tried to find the 8 statues of the tanuki characters that live around Sumoto. Tanuki is sometimes translated as ‘raccoon dogs’ but I prefer to just call them Tanuki. It’s surprisingly cold for April today, thankfully the sun came out in the afternoon.

Here is a cute map made by kids in Sumoto Port. It has charming English translations.

Tanuki number 1 is Shibaemon, the most famous?! (but still not that famous). He is mischievous and likes to dress up as a human to go to the (human) theatre. He is the God of Theatre. You can find this statue at the stage in Hachiman shrine.

Number 2 is Shibasuke , the child of Shibaemon and God of good health. He is situated in what used to be the outdoor foot onsen. You can still go there but there isn’t any water in the bath. Cute!

This is Buzaemon, he is God of security or ‘crime prevention’. I find it amusing that he looks like he’s meditating with his eyes shut, a very peaceful way to prevent crime, haha. (pic by my 4 yr old) You can find him at Itsukushima shrine.

Buzaemon meditating there at the jinja.

This is Omatsu she is God of beautiful women.

This is Takuzaemon, God of prosperous business, or finance. It was the hardest to find for us, located by the river. He is the eldest tanuki. There is a stone the shape of Awaji Island next to him.

Takuzaemon is near the Teramachi area of town, which I hadn’t been round the back of before. The graveyards are really beautiful, if you like that kind of thing (which I do). Big trees have their new leaves with that gorgeous spring green colour.

This is Gotaro, God of traffic safety. He likes to clean the river. Maybe that helps with boat traffic safety? I’m sure the fish appreciate it too. He is at the West end of the ‘shotengai’ covered shopping arcade, by the river.

This is Masuemon, apparently God of liquor, bars and restaurants. According to the kid’s description he protects the castle from drunk attackers, but also loves to drink, which sounds like a mess to me. Also, I don’t really understand this statue. is he lying down?

This is a bonus tanuki. Beach tanuki!

This is Omasu, God of business/shopping, she loves shopping and pays with leaves. Wife of Shibaemon.

Thats all 8 tanuki. Have you seen the film Pompoko? I’m going to watch it next to learn more about tanuki in popular culture!

Also I was reminded when I saw a real tanuki in Kyushu, about 4 years ago. It was very shy, up a mountain area called shikoku karst. You can see our blog about it here.

Will you try to find these tanuki next time?