You’ve probably seen these adorable tanuki figures outside of your favorite Japanese bar or restaurant, but did you happen to notice how, er, well endowed they are?
Yeah. Can’t unsee. Now that you know to look, it’s amazing you never noticed before, right? But nobody celebrated these giant gonads more inventively than Edo period artists. You might not think that having a giant hairy ballsack would be a particularly useful body part, but Japanese woodblock artist Kuniyoshi delighted in imagining how the well-endowed tanuki might wield such a gift to its advantage…
The reason scrotally well-endowed tanuki figures are so often found outside businesses in Japan is that tanukis are known as shape-shifting tricksters who can deceive everyone from shopkeepers to brothel owners into taking worthless dry leaves for payment. Apparently, putting a tanuki outside the door fools other marauding tanukis into thinking one of their kind is already preying on the patsies inside.
And the reason their balls have grown to be so legendary in size is that goldsmiths used to wrap chunks of gold in tanuki testicle hide to pound them into the thinnest of gold leaf. Because this tanuki leather was so tough, it was said to be able to stretch the gold into a sheet large enough to cover eight tatami mats. Wallets made of tanuki hide became popular, because it was believed they could stretch other kinds of money as effectively as they stretched gold, and the depiction of the tanuki’s bodacious ballsacks stretched along with the legend.