The Writing of Tanuki

Translated from Edo Tokyo Kaii Hyakumonogatari

In Bushu, Tanma-gun, in the village of Bunkokuji, the village headman Heigo was once visited by a tanuki who had disguised itself as a Buddhist monk.  The tankuki claimed to be a monk from the Murasaki Otoku temple in Kyoto, and was under a vow of silence so could only communicate by written notes.

Bunkokuji was just a small, countryside village and the headman was honored to have such a holy guest, one who was so diligent in walking the eight-fold path of the Buddha.  He invited the monk to stay with him and be fed as a guest.

Now, the handwriting of this monk was most peculiar.  He freely mixed the styles of artful Chinese calligraphy and machine-printed Japanese with some strange flourishes that Heigo had never seen before.  There were many grammatical mistakes as well, and Heigo thought it looked like the sort of thing that a tanuki would write.

By the morning, the monk had disappeared, and outside his house Heigo found the body of a tanuki who had been torn apart by local dogs.  His suspicious were confirmed.

There are many such stories of tanuki writings that have been passed down through the years.


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  1. Trackback: Tanuki: The Magical Canine with Gigantic Balls - Tofugu

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