Local Tokyo Fauna

I know the following claim might come off as slightly suspicious, posted at 1:34am and freshly back from drinking in Shinjuku, but… I just saw a tanuki casually crossing the boulevard, two blocks from our house. A freaking tanuki. In the middle of Tokyo.

I would have chalked it up to alcohol and a very weird-looking cat, but the taxi driver was even more categorical that the thing was neither an itachi nor a cat, but indeed a tanuki.

Next week: wild boars in our courtyard.

Filed under: Japan, Quickies


  1. This is actually not that uncommon — I’ve seen tanuki as well as hakubishin (masked palm civets) in Tokyo on several occasions.

    In fact, there is a book about tanuki in Tokyo which I’ve read and can recommend, タヌキたちのびっくり東京生活, http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/switch-language/product/4774135259/ref=dp_change_lang?ie=UTF8&language=en_JP

    The author of this book, Miyamoto Takumi, also runs a website where he tracks tanuki sightings in Tokyo and keeps a database of tanuku sighting incidents and has produced several interesting reports on Tokyo’s tanuki population. The website is also a fascinating read and I recommend a look: http://tokyotanuki.jp/

    We’ve documented one incident of hakubishin in our neighbourhood as well: http://www.mediatinker.com/blog/2012/01/mystery-weasel-masked-civet.html

  2. @distalzou: thanks for the references! Indeed, Kristen already mentioned that website to me. I did check and they do not seem to have any sighting (or data) for Shinagawa-ku as of this year… So my sighting would constitute a first!

  3. I have seen a tanuki in Tokyo. At first I thought it was a weird looking cat and then realised it was a different animal altogether.

    It was when I was walking towards Jo and MJ’s old place which then became Rachel’s place. It was near the storm water drains.

    It was so obviously a tanuki and it was before I had started drinking so it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks on me.

    I bet if we tipped Tokyo upside down and shook it, every type of beastie and critter would be found. Kinda like Noah’s ark.

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