The Dog That Ate a Tanuki

Long ago in old Japan there was a temple in the remote countryside. The area was known for its prevalence of tanuki, a mischievous shapeshifting yokai. One evening a farmer was walking home and saw the local priest crouched down in pain. He went to help and the priest told him he had hurt his foot and asked if he could be carried to the closest village.

Utagawa Hiroshige

As the man lifted the priest onto his back, he realised that he was very thin and light. When questioned the priest said it was because he didn't eat much anymore. The man was very suspicious so he gently felt the priest's foot only to discover it was covered in hair. Realising the priest was actually a tanuki in disguise, he tied him up, took him to his home and locked him in a room inside his house.

Utagawa Hiroshige

Once he confirmed that the real priest was still at the temple, he let his hunting dog into the locked room. Much growling and howling ensued, and when the noise finally died down the man peeked into the room. He saw that the dog had killed the 'priest' and on the floor instead was the corpse of a very large and very old tanuki.

Tomioka Eisen

If you are interested in tanuki and their incredible shapeshifting abilities you can read more here.