Strolling through the backstreets of Akihabara, passing by the Mansei-bashi Police Station and then crossing the Kanda Fureai-bashi pedestrian bridge, I noticed a small shrine. It is called Yanagimori Shrine and is dedicated to Tanuki.
Tanuki is the word used for the Japanese raccoon dog, but it also represents a magical imaginary being from the Japanese folklore. Tanuki are pranksters, tricking sellers with magic leaves that look like money, masters of disguise and even shape-shifters…
A very prominent feature of tanuki are their… testicles. Tanuki are almost always represented with big testicles, but the statues from Yanagimori Shrine have gigantic ones. In Japanese, tanuki’s testicles are called Kin-tama (Golden Jewels) and are considered symbols of luck, without any connection to sexuality or fertility. About the tanuki from this specific shrine, it is also said that they are beneficial for “advancement of people’s lives":
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: