jolly tanuki, with its big belly and its beaming smile is a popular
image in Japan, and its likeness can be seen in many statues, pottery,
and other things. Based on a real animal, which is most similar
in appearance to a raccoon, but actually closer to a dog in lineage,
the tanuki is also a mythological creatures with special powers.
Known for its love of drink and its mischievous nature, the tanuki
is like a patron saint of drinking establishments, and is thought
to bring good luck.
Its belly is not the only thing that is big, and those new to seeing
a tanuki will often take note of its unusually large testicles (if
they don't mistake them for his feet). Known as "golden balls"
in Japanese, their large size is thought to symbolize good luck.
For more information on the tanuki, there is a rather detailed
explanation and a variety