Kincho Raccoon Statue in Komatsushima, Japan

Kincho Raccoon Statue in Komatsushima, Japan

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Kincho Raccoon Statue in Komatsushima Station Park

In a quiet park in a small harbor town on the east coast of the Japanese island of Shikoku, a 15-foot high concrete statue of a giant, lantern-carrying, raccoon towers over locals playing croquet from its perch on a large rock.

If a tourist looks puzzled enough, one of the local athletes may come over and demonstrate the unusual features of this public art installation. If you stand right in front of the raccoon and clap your hands as if praying at a Shinto shrine, a motion-activated sensor will turn on pumps that create a large waterfall cascading over the cliff behind the larger-than-life mammal.

While small pottery figures of raccoons are common throughout Japan, usually with a straw hat and jug of liquor outside drinking establishments, the town of Komatsushima takes raccoon statuary to monumental heights, with hundreds of raccoon figures of all sizes throughout the town. These are not your typical mischievous boozing raccoons—they are generally dressed up as warriors in shogun helmets and samurai armor. 

Apparently, long, long ago, a run-of-the-mill mischievous raccoon had been captured and was being tormented by some unkind children when it was rescued by a famous general passing by on the road. In gratitude for being rescued, the raccoon changed its devious ways, promoted kindness towards all, and itself became a famous general, known as Kincho. Kincho led local armies to a number of victories, earning it this unusual enshrinement at the center of the city park.

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July 3, 2017 at 03:02PM

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