Have you ever seen smiling raccoon dogs (a.k.a. tanuki)? They are very popular and familiar in Japanese culture from ancient times, seen for example, in the Japanese fairy tale Bunbuku Chagama.
Shouko, a monk, set a small temple in Tatebayashi city in the Edo period about 400 years ago, and he named it Morinji.
A second monk, Shukaku, held a big tea ceremony for 1,000 guests. At that time, he used a miracle teapot full of everlasting boiling water. Thanks to this, he could serve green tea to a lot of people. Afterwards, the teapot was called Bunbuku Chagama. Bunbuku means sharing peace and good fortune with many people. The teapot is still set on the alcove in Morinji Temple, which is now famous for this fairy tale.
We can see Bunbuku Chagama and other old precious teapots, along with a collection of cute raccoon dog statues, at the museum. The admission fee is 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for children. Opening hours are from 9:00 to 16:00.
From the gate to the front of Morinji Temple, there are many varieties of tanuki statues. Some of them are wearing colorful kimono, which indicate that they are female. Some of them are giant males with Japanese sake bottles. I love their cute, smiling facial expressions, and they look like they are smiling right at me.
Each tanuki statue has a different meaning. You can enjoy guessing about it.
Limited “Hello Kitty” charms, special Japanese sake and other souvenirs are sold at the gift shops. We can eat noodles for lunch. About 50 parking spaces are available, free all day.
I love the fairy tale Bunbuku Chagama, which my dad read and told as one of my bedside stories when I was a child. You can enjoy the story here.
As for the location, Morinjimae station is north of Tokyo, about one and a half hours from Asakusa on the Tobu Isesaki train line.
Please enjoy hiking around Morinji Temple. When you go onto the grounds, beautiful Japanese azaleas and wisterias will welcome you.
For bird watching, it is the best place.
Eight blessings from the symbol of the tanuki:
1. Hat: For your protection from any unexpected troubles
2. Face: Be friendly, charming, and give credit to others
3. Big tummy: Don’t rush, don’t hurry, and be confidently determined
4. Big eyes: Determine the best way to judge what is good and bad, and take care of others
5. Tail: To make things thick, firm, and to get rid of your own greed in the end of the matter (like the tail)
6. Liquor bottle: Try to eat moderately, 80%, appreciate your daily diet, and wish for long life
7. Huge testicles: Obtain luck with money
8. “通” Okayoi: Sincere behavior helps to acquire ability for good communication and to win trust