Let me tell you a seriously messed up story that involves a homicidal tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) and a vengeful rabbit. Of course, there are many variations to this disturbing tale out there, but here’s the version I found online. I’d better warn you: it’s not pretty.
Basically, it goes something like this: a cheeky tanuki gets careless and is captured by a man who wants to kill and cook it for dinner. When the man leaves town, the tanuki begs the man’s wife to set him free. The wife does just that, only to have the horrible creature turn on her and kill her. The animal then disguises himself as the wife and uses the flesh of the dead woman to make a stew. When the man comes home, the tanuki lets him eat it. Following this, the tanuki reveals himself and confesses his deed before running off, leaving the poor man in shock.
This is where the rabbit comes in. Being a good friend of the couple, the rabbit decides to avenge the man’s dead wife. He pretends to befriend the tanuki and uses this advantage to torture the tanuki by playing painful tricks, including dropping a bee’s nest on his head, using a peppery poultice to ‘treat’ the bee stings, and pretty much setting his back on fire.
This is an actual Japanese folktale that mentions Mt. Kachi Kachi, “kachi kachi” being the onomatopoeic sound of the fire burning the tanuki. When you travel up the Mt. Kachi Kachi ropeway and reach the landing (oh, by the way, you can see glorious Mt. Fuji from up here), you will be greeted by statues depicting portions of this tale. Why? I have no idea, it’s pretty traumatic. But hey, the view is pretty good up there. We went on a day when it wasn’t so clear, but at least we saw Fujisan and had some delicious sweet, sticky mitarashi dango dumplings.
KAWAGUCHIKO TENJŌ-YAMA PARK
MT. KACHI KACHI ROPEWAY
1163-1 Azagawa, Fujikawaguchiko-machi
Yamanashi, Japan 401-0303