The Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also known as tanuki (狸 or たぬき ? ) in Japanese, is a subspecies of the raccoon dog native to Japan.
Researchers have suggested that they be considered a separate species, N. viverrinus, or that raccoon dogs of Japan could be further divisible into separate subspecies as N. p. procyonoides (hondo-tanuki) and N. p. albus (ezo-tanuki), but both views are controversial
As the tanuki, the animal has been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary.
"Tanuki" is often mistakenly translated into English as badger or raccoon (as in the US version of the movie Pompoko), two unrelated types of animals with a superficially similar appearance. Traditionally, different areas of Japan had different names for raccoon dogs as animals, which would be used to denote different animals in other parts of the country, including badgers and wild cats; however the official word in the standard Tokyo dialect is now tanuki, a term that also carries the folkloric significance.