Learn About the Cheeky Tanuki at Chingo-do Temple in Asakusa
In Tokyo’s heart is a relatively unknown temple, Asakusa’s Chingo-Do temple, which is actually part of Sensoji Temple. Still, it has a separate entrance — so many will miss it. I recommend it because itis a tribute to the tanuki — a fun, merry, raccoon-like Japanese folklore character said to protect against fire and theft (aka the Japanese “raccoon dog”).
This is why restaurants and homeowners often put them out in front — as protection and good fortune.
Tanuki are famous in Japanese culture, and you’ll find references to them in movies, anime, design, art, and even various restaurants around Tokyo. There is even yokai (Japanese spirit/demon characters) such as Bake Danuki — a supernatural tanuki spirit, some say has the ability to shapeshift (much like the kitsune (fox)).
Especially in this Senso-Ji area, you’ll find tanuki decorating the area from the Nakamise Shopping Street to the Sumida River. And of course, the famous Ghibli Studio includes tanuki in their animated films, the most famous of Pom Poko.
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