Our friend Hiro from Shimano noticed the 2011 Tanuki and provided some additional notes about this mystic animal which is native to Japan. This is what he told us:

Tanuki is a kind of Racoon dog that lives in almost all over Japan. They are believed as an incarnation of both good or evil spirit. They metamorphose to anything to do tricks (good or bad) to human.

Just like the horseshoe in North America, you can often find this in front of Japanese houses, especially in mid-west part, where Sakai City locates. Actually this is the speciality of Shiga, the place I lived recent 7 years and where my wife is from. The ornament has 8 lucks. The number 8 itself has the meaning of good luck, because the shape of the character which means 8 looks like this “八”. It goes wider in the bottom, which turns “better future”.

Here is the detail of 8 lucks a tanuki has:
1. Big hat (Japanese “Umbrella” in early years made of rice straw) represents; to avoid misfortune.
2. Big eyes represents; to foresee the future
3. Funny face represents; to remind you to smile
4. Sake bottle represents; to eat well and live well
5. Notebook represents; to be trusted
6. Big tummy represents; to be calm
7. Big testicles represents; to have lots of descendents and to be rich
8. Tail represents; to have good end

Just for your information!

Thanks Hiro!