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Showing posts from January, 2015

ENVIRONMENT | OLD NIC'S NOTEBOOK Talking tanuki — or whatever you call them

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2015/01/03/environment/talking-tanuki-whatever-call/#.VKnO8EZOKJK After deer, easily the most commonly seen wild mammals up here in the Kurohime hills where I live, and in northern Nagano Prefecture in general, are the furry, short-legged burrowing creatures called  tanuki  in Japanese. If you look up that word in older Japanese-English dictionaries you’ll find it translated as “badger,” but that’s wrong because these omnivorous animals, whose native range spans many countries of East Asia, are classified in the family Canidae — which includes domestic dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals and coyotes. Hence they’re entirely different from the Mustelidae to which badgers (along with otters, weasels, martens, ferrets, minks and wolverines) belong. More modern dictionaries will tell you that tanuki means “raccoon dog,” but that is extremely misleading because, although they slightly resemble raccoons, they are very different — and they’re certainly not dogs that e