Photo: Pakutaso
crime

Man in Toyama Prefecture arrested for stealing about 50 'tanuki' statues

26 Comments
By SoraNews24

Anyone who’s spent time in Japan, will likely have crossed paths with peculiar statues of bug-eyed, slack-jawed animals straddling a pair of gigantic testicles. These jolly critters are tanuki, sometimes known as “raccoon dogs.”

Based on the real animal of the same name, the tanuki of folklore is a good-natured but morally ambiguous creature with supernatural powers. These mischievous animals are not above using their abilities to put a leaf on their head and shapeshift into whatever they want in order to steal the occasional turnip or con people into doing things for them.

In some ways they’re comparable to leprechauns of Irish lore, and similarly seen as symbols of luck in Japan, which is why statues of them can be found all over the place. Perhaps this is also why they recently became the target of theft in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture.

On Feb 1, 74-year-old Kiyoharu Okinishi was caught red-handed stealing a tanuki figure by Takaoka police. Suspecting that he was responsible for another two tanuki statue thefts a month earlier, the authorities searched his home and found a stash of nearly 50 raccoon dogs.

▼ News report shows all the stolen tanuki… and one owl?

In true tanuki fashion, Okinishi cryptically confessed to some crimes, telling police: “I have stolen tanuki figures, but I don’t know if they’re the ones I’m being arrested for.”

In order to clarify charges against the suspect, police are asking anyone in the area whose tanuki statues disappeared to contact them. They are also currently trying to ascertain a motive.

Readers of the news were also unsure what would drive someone to do such a thing, and they expressed amazement at the scope of such a minor crime.

“He stole so many!”

“Did he just really like tanuki, or was there a different reason?”

“I hope those little guys can all get back home.”

“What’s up with the owl?”

“Those things sure are cute, but you shouldn’t steal them.”

“What was he going to do with all those?”

“It became an addiction for him.”

“I’m scared that I might end up like this guy when I get old.”

What drove this elderly man to steal dozens of ceramic tanuki? The respect of his peers? The thousands of yen (tens of dollars) he stood to gain? Or was it just the thrill of stealing?

Source: NHKHachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Big, drunk and furry—Everything you need to know about tanuki (plus a song about their balls!)

-- Japanese family find creatives solution after “tanuki” sends daughter letter, promises play date

-- Tanuki magically disguises self as cat to get food

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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I love those, too, but I wouldn't think of stealing them.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“*Gnoming” *@GBR48 8:26am use to be a relatively ‘harmless’ crime, pinching someone’s garden gnome for ‘photo-outings’. A Victoria, B.C. woman had a garden gnome stolen & later returned with a photo album brimming with it’s international travels. “It brought a smile to my face as I read the book.” -

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Kleptomania is not a hobby. It’s an illness.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

News in Japan never stop surprising me, I wonder if similar news articles have appeared in other countries, like a serial "garden gnome" thief or something.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

At least it's better than stealing women's underwear or that one guy who was stealing children's socks for years.

I have a Daruma collection so I can relate to some degree. Coincidentally I also have one tanuki in my Daruma collection.

Not enough of a fetishist to actually go round stealing them though.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I love my one.

the best thing about Japan is you can things like this outside your house. In my home country, you have to padlock pot plants.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

His public display of the booty shows real balls.

- “peculiar statues of bug-eyed, slack-jawed animals straddling a pair of gigantic testicles. These jolly critters are tanuki” -

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If your a serious Tanuki collector, they’re made in Shigaraki, Shiga-ken near Kyoto-Nara-Osaka. If you’re also a fan of coffee, there is an exclusive mug in red or black only sold at the STARBUCKS Koka Minakuchi Shop, 6004-1 Minakuchicho Minakuchi, Koka, Shiga. Here’s a photo of the larger sizes.

“https://www.tripadvisor.com.br/Restaurant_Review-g1023574-d11864520-Reviews-Starbucks_Coffee_Koka_MInakuchi-Koka_Shiga_Prefecture_Kinki.html

0 ( +2 / -2 )

tanuki are awesome! they have giant testicles and apparently, there is a song about it - gotta love Japan!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Must be a fan of Super Mario 3.

Maybe he thought if he collected enough, he might be able to grow a tail and ears and be able to fly?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Must be the pointy hats.

- “Eccentric lot.” -

Agreed. @ebisen 1:17pm needs a hug.”

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I love those tanuki statues, I want one for my back yard here in Australia, but you can’t get them here. So if this guy has Australian connections, I’m up for meeting him in a dark street somewhere and exchanging a little cash for one of those critters- maybe even two.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In true tanuki fashion, Okinishi cryptically confessed to some crimes, telling police: “I have stolen tanuki figures, but I don’t know if they’re the ones I’m being arrested for.”

At 74 years old, I hope the ojiichan doesn't have the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Kawaisou ne.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There’s not too much in Toyama worth stealing apparently...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Collectors.... some get their kicks from underwear, others from tanukis

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One owl feels left out in the cold...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe his wife was turned into a Tanuki by a witch, and now he's searching for her.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This codger’s as much a nuisance as the character embodies. They’re only investigating this one and 3 other reported thefts to which he’s confessed so,

some of his collection of 50 may have been acquired through rightful meets:

- “I have stolen tanuki figures, but I don’t know if they’re the ones I’m being arrested for.” -

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some Tanuki statues can stand over 2 metres tall.

- @8:26am: “I'm surprised Japan doesn't have a huge character gnome market.”

Shigaraki is one of the largest Tanuki and ceramic wares open-marketplaces. It’s great to visit with and see the friendly artists at work in their craft. Real deals can be found directly, without the middle-men, particularly for pieces with slight flaws in glazing the artists feel department stores & souvenir shops may not purchase. Your day trips to the community and patronage of some more ‘unique’ pieces may also go to help ‘those more challenged by life’:

- https://voyapon.com/shigaraki-ceramics-tanuki-disabled-project/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

At least it's better than stealing women's underwear or that one guy who was stealing children's socks for years.

true!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Save the tanukis!!!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I'm worried about the mental state of the person's -1-ing many of the very interesting comments here - she or he needs a hug.

... And yes, tanuki and his balls are comical and basically to be found in many gardens in Japan, just a quirky appearance. I would be sad if someone would steal one from me.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Walked into Tokyu Hands in Shibuya a while back and there were Tanuki everywhere. Purchased some small ones. They make good gifts.

I guess the larger ones have the status of garden gnomes. They get pinched too.

Given the market for character goods, I'm surprised Japan doesn't have a huge character gnome market.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

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