Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
The Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides "nycto-" = Gr. "night," "ereutes" = Gr. "wanderer," "procyon" = "raccoon," "-oides" = Gr. "-oid") is a member of the canid family (which includes dogs, wolves, and foxes) and is indigenous to east Asia. It is not a true dog, and is the only extant species in its genus Nyctereutes. It is named for its superficial resemblance to the non-canid raccoon. The animal carries historical and cultural significance in Japan, where it is called tanuki, a term which is also sometimes translated as "badger" and often mistakenly translated into English as "raccoon". Traditionally, different areas of Japan would have different names for raccoon dogs as animals, which would be used to denote different animals in other parts of the country, however the official word in the standard Tokyo dialect is now "tanuki", a term that carries folkloric significance (see tanuki). It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary.