JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - Tatebayashi 館林市
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Morinji is a Soto-Zen temple famous for the Bunbuku Chagama (分福茶釜) folk tale about a tanuki raccoon dog that transformed into a steel pot used by the temple priest. Near Morinji-mae Station on the Tobu Line. One stop before Tatebayashi Station.387 views
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Also see my photos of Shigaraki tanuki in Shiga Prefecture here.356 views
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Tatebayashi The Treasures Garden is a fairly large garden with various flowers, especially roses and moss pink. It is open from April to Nov. from 8 am to 6 pm (till 5 pm in autumn).256 views
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On the way back out, passing by the 21 tanuki raccoon dog statues again.235 views
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4. The large belly is for being calm as well as bold...231 views
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A few statues shows a tanuki morphed into a steel tea pot at Morinji temple, Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture. Based on the Bunbuku Chagama folktale.212 views
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Tatebayashi Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line (connects to Hanzomon subway line in Tokyo), east side. Takes almost 90 min. from central Tokyo by regular train. Costs only about 1100 yen.194 views
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A giant Tanuki raccoon dog statue at Morinji temple at Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture. Donated by Tobu Railway in 1960.168 views
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Room exhibiting the legendary chagama tea pot in Morinj temple, Tatebayashi, Gunma.156 views
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Room exhibiting the legendary chagama tea pot in Morinj temple, Tatebayashi, Gunma.155 views
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Love red and white flowers at Tsutsujigaoka Park, Tatebayashi, Gunma.154 views
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Another tanuki morphed into a steel tea pot at Morinji temple, Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture. Based on the Bunbuku Chagama folktale.152 views
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Morinji's tourist souvenir shops sell mainly tanuki statues made in Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture.143 views
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Rose142 views
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Manhole with tanuki design in Tatebayashi, Gunma.142 views
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Koinobori and azaleas in Tatebayashi, Gunma.142 views
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I was going to overdose on azalea. Had never seen so much azalea in my life. Tsutsujigaoka Park, Tatebayashi, Gunma.141 views
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Hachiman Shrine on Tatebayashi Castle's Honmaru, Gunma.139 views
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Tanuki raccoon dog statue at Morinji temple at Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.139 views
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Tanuki raccoon dog statue at Morinji temple at Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.138 views
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Festivals in Tatebayashi.137 views
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Tanuki in Tatebayashi, Gunma.137 views
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Tsutsujigaoka Park, Tatebayashi137 views
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Hachiman Shrine on Tatebayashi Castle's Honmaru. The shrine has a protective housing. Hachiman was the patron god of Tatebayashi Castle, Gunma.136 views
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Tatebayashi Castle's Dobashi Gate. 土橋門135 views
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A few azalea bushes had passed their peak.135 views
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Hachiman Shrine on Tatebayashi Castle's Honmaru. Gunma.132 views
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Tatebayashi Castle's Honmaru is marked by this Hachiman Shrine on a mound. Gunma.131 views
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Tanuki and azalea, a good match? I prefer women and flowers. Tsutsujigaoka130 views
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View from Fureai Bridge in Tatebayashi.129 views
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These tall rose bushes were most outstanding.127 views
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Netfishing sculpture.118 views
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Ukishima Benzaiten Shrine in Tataranuma Park, Tatebayashi, Gunma. Part of the spirit of Benzaiten at Enoshima island in Kanagawa was transferred here. 浮島弁財天118 views
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Statue in front of Chiaki Mukai Children's Science Museum, Tatebayashi, Gunma. The boy holds a space shuttle.117 views
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Rose116 views
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Web site116 views
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Wedding chapel brought here from Bristol, UK. 112 views
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Inside the wedding chapel brought here from Bristol, UK. 110 views
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It felt like I was in Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture.107 views
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7. Large gonads between the legs which is the money bag for prosperity...107 views
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6. An unpaid bill in the left hand symbolizes trust...106 views
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A stone marker for Morinji temple, designating it as one of Tatebayashi's 100 Famous Sites.102 views
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Tanuki raccoon dog in front of Tatebayashi Station, east side.102 views
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5. A sake flask in the left hand for innate virtue...97 views
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Even the edges are incredibly colorful. This edge had group photo stands.96 views
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The way to Morinji temple is lined with some tourist souvenir shops.95 views
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Map of Tsutsujigaoka, a National Scenic Site. It's a low, flat hill full of azalea bushes. There is a maze of foot paths going through the azalea. 名勝95 views
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Flower fountain in front of Tatebayashi Station.94 views
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Sights in Jonuma area, dominated by Lake Jonuma.93 views
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Morinji-mae Station. Morinji temple is a short walk away (660 meters).93 views
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Tanuki raccoon dog in front of Tatebayashi Station, east side.91 views
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Tanuki raccoon dogs in front of Tatebayashi Station.91 views
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Along Tsuruudagawa River were koinobori carp streamers flanked by cherry trees and azaleas.91 views
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Mind-blowing just to see so many azalea along the edges. But much, much more was waiting on this hill.91 views
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Tanuki sighting near Lake Jonuma89 views
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Lake Jonuma88 views
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Tanuki statues on the right side of the Sando path to the Sanmon Gate.88 views
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Tsutsujigaoka Park is a 15-20-min. walk from Tatebayashi Station.88 views
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Obiki ferry dock is on the left above the bridge on this map.88 views
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About Bunbuku Chagma folktale, explaining why all the tanuki in Tatebayashi. Click here for the story.87 views
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City mascot "Pon-chan" goods sold at tourist information office in front of Tatebayashi Station. "Pon" refers to the character's pot belly.87 views
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Even at the Morinji temple parking lot, tanuki statues.87 views
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Wisteria87 views
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The length of most of the koinobori is shorter than usual. Unlike the giant ones at Kannamachi also in Gunma.87 views
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Tsutsujigaoka Park is a lakeside park featuring this low hill almost 200 meters long and 80 meters wide.87 views
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Tatebayashi Station platform87 views
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Flower fountain in front of Tatebayashi Station.86 views
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Tourist information office in front of Tatebayashi Station.86 views
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Tataranuma Park is a prefectural park with cherry blossoms, wisteria, and a marshy lake with enough reed fields to attract swans migrating from Siberia every winter. 86 views
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Admission during peak flower season is 1,500 yen. Otherwise, it's 500 yen. I went in May when the roses were in bloom. The garden is near Morinji temple.86 views
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Azaleas continue to lead the way to the park.86 views
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Street corner with another tanuki. These tanuki are made in Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture.86 views
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In April and May, thousands of flying carp streamers grace the Tsuruudogawa River connected to Lake Jonuma.86 views
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Rest house on Tsutsujigaoka.86 views
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Now this is an entrance to Tsutsuji-en, a long, slim azalea garden. I walked through this on the way back.86 views
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A symbol of Tatebayashi, Tanuki raccoon dogs welcome you in front of Morinji-mae Station. A hint of what's in store. A story panel starts to explain the tanuki story. Other story panels are found on the way to the temple.85 views
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Near Tataranuma Park is Gunma Museum of Art, Tatebayashi. Closed Mondays.85 views
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My friend in Tatebayashi tells me, "The legend of the azalea park is that the lord of Tatebayashi, Sakakibara Yasumasa, had a mistress named Otsuji.85 viewsThe wife was jealous of her and gave her such a hard time that Otsuji threw herself into Lake Jonuma and died. Since her name sounded like tsutsuji, the lord planted the garden to console her soul."
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"Pon-chan" goods sold at tourist information office in front of Tatebayashi Station.84 views
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It's a pleasant walk with azalea decorating the sidewalk.84 views
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There were these flower racks too.84 views
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The koinobori are strung from late March to mid-May. Especially spectacular when the cherries are in bloom during late March to mid-April.84 views
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Way to Obiki ferry boat84 views
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Boat ride was pleasant enough.84 views
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Approaching Tsutsujigaoka Park84 views
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Shopping street for tourists next to Tsutsujigaoka.84 views
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Poplar tree and azalea84 views
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The occasional white azalea give your eyes a break from all the bright colors.84 views
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3. The large eyes is for seeing the situation and making correct and considerate decisions...83 views
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I visited Tatabayashi again in early May 2014 to see the azaleas at Tsutsujigaoka Park. 83 views
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View from Fureai Bridge. These carp were once registered in the Guiness Book of World Records as having the most koinobori (over 6,000).83 views
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Obiki ferry takes only several minutes to reach Tsutsujigaoka Park. Fare was cheap, includes admission to the park. It's also possible to walk to the park.83 views
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Koinobori at a lakeside house.83 views
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Relaxing ride, only me and a mother and child.83 views
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Boat dock for Tsutsujigaoka Park. Other boats offered cruises.83 views
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The hill also has a few azalea tunnels.83 views
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Edge of Tsutsuji-en Garden.83 views
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8. A thick tail for reliability and stability no matter what.82 views
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Rose tunnel82 views
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Entrance to Tatebayashi City Hall is also decorated with azaleas.82 views
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Tourist information office82 views
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The garden changed its name from Yachonomori Garden (野鳥の森ガーデン) to The Treasures Garden. They have been expanding the garden to make it more attractive to tourists. So far, they've been doing a good job, the Tobu Group.81 views
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The Sando path (参道) from Somon Gate to Sanmon Gate (山門) is lined with 21 tanuki statues on both sides. The temple really plays up on its Bunbuku Chagama folktale fame.79 views
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If you missed the azaleas at the famous Tsutsujigaoka Park, you can visit The Treasures Garden as consolation. This is the Long Border Garden.79 views
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The park has a lot of greenery.78 views
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Wedding chapel brought here from Bristol, UK. 78 views
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First you see this Somon Gate (総門), built in 1468 and normally called Kuromon Gate (黒門), to enter Morinji temple, one of Tatebayashi's main tourist sights.77 views
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Then there's a showroom of many tanuki sculptures, both wooden and stuffed.77 views
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Tanuki statues at Shukaku-do. This one was says "Welcome" in Kansai dialect, saying ""oideyasu."77 views
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Shigaraki tanuki is said to bear Eight Lucky Omens (八相縁起). 1. The hat is protection from unexpected disasters...76 viewsShigaraki tanuki is said to bear Eight Lucky Omens (八相縁起). 1. The hat is protection from unexpected disasters. 2. The smiling face is for affability, 3. The large eyes is for seeing the situation and making correct and considerate decisions, 4. The large belly is for being calm as well as bold, 5. A sake flask in the left hand for innate virtue, 6. An unpaid bill in the left hand symbolizes trust, 7. Large gonads between the legs which is the money bag for prosperity, and 8. A thick tail for reliability and stability no matter what.
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Tanuki statues at Shukaku-do.76 views
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Inside Former Akimoto Villa. 旧秋元別邸75 views
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Tanuki statues on the left side of the Sando path to the Sanmon Gate.75 views
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The first panel explaining the famous Bunbuku Chagama (分福茶釜) folktale about a tanuki raccoon dog which turned into a tea pot. Morinji temple is where the folktale originated. There are multiple versions of the story.74 views
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Tanuki statues in the showcase looked very old.74 views
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Shukaku-do Hall dedicated to the priest Shukaku-osho (守鶴和尚), a longtime priest supporter of Morinji temple and who brought the legendary chagama pot. 守鶴堂74 views
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Moss pink (shibazakura) hills.74 views
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In 1426, Shotsu took Shukaku with him to Tatebayashi and built a tiny temple. In 1468, the local Aoyagi Castle lord Akai Masamitsu (赤井正光) indebted to Shotsu, donated some of his land for the temple.73 viewsThe 13th panel explaining the famous Bunbuku Chagama folktale.
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Most of these tanuki came from Shigaraki in Shiga Prefecture. Shigaraki is one of Japan's most famous pottery centers.73 views
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A room with more scrolls and paintings of chagama.73 views
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Painting of a tanuki chagama.73 views
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Boyhood home of novelist Tayama Katai, former samurai house.72 views
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Former Akimoto Villa built for the Akimoto clan who ruled Tatebayashi. 旧秋元別邸72 views
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Map of Morinji temple. Morinji was founded by the priest Dairin Shotsu (大林正通), During a pilgrimage, Shotsu met an old priest Shukaku-osho at the foot of Ikaho in Gunma. 72 views
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Old Tanuki statues at Morinji temple,72 views
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The legendary chagama tea pot in Morinj temple, Tatebayashi, Gunma.72 views
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About the the legendary chagama tea pot in Morinj temple, Tatebayashi, Gunma. There are other versions of the folktale.72 views
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Women's restroom at the Morinji parking lot has a tanuki design.71 views
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In folklore, tanuki is a mischievous shapeshifter so it is often depicted in many different costumes.71 views
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2. The smiling face is for affability...71 views
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Tanuki sculptures71 views
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