I have drunk too much coffee before bed and am unable to go to sleep. I do this often, and should learn not to do this so much, but I make the most of my time and read until fatigue sets in. It is 2:30 AM or so, and finally, my consciousness drifts away into the dark.
Crash. I open my eyes. There is a noise. Closer than it should be. I stare at the ceiling and listen. I hear it again. There is something inside of my house.
Fuck. I shoot out of bed, my heart pounding. I must have left a window open. Fuck. I am awake, and I know what is going on. There is a monkey in my house.
Japanese monkeys are not to be fucked around with. They are extremely agressive and will attack if threatened. Part of me just wants to go to sleep, let it do its thing and have its fill on my food, and hope that it leaves by the morning. No, this is a shit idea. I imagine the scene of me forgetting the monkey, walking downstairs drowsily in the morning to get a bowl of cereal, and meeting eyes with this monkey sitting on my counter. Both of us screaming.
I have to act. I look around my bedroom and try to deliberate a plan. Maybe I will throw the fan at it? No, that will only piss it off. Get a stack of books and just keep throwing them at it until it runs out from the point that it came in at? No, that’s a bad idea, too. Ok, I’ve decided. I take the comforter from off my bed. I’m going to throw the blanket over it as it charges towards me, grab the creature as its flailing trapt beneath the blanket, and toss the whole bundle out of my window.
I jump out of my bedroom and begin searching rooms. The noise is still there. It’s coming from downstairs. I creep down silently, stair after stair, until I am right outside the kitchen door. The creature hears me and stops moving. I ready my mind, take a breath, and jump through the door.
Nothing. I pause. Again, the noise! It’s coming not from inside my house, but from right outside my kitchen window! I grab my flashlight, creep up slowly, and quickly slide open the window.
Standing outside is not a monkey, but a tanuki, its head in my tipped over trashcan, litter thrown everywhere in my side yard. It looks up, makes eye contact with me, and casually walks away.
I won’t have time to clean this up, and my gossipy neighbors will think the mess is my own and will be sure to invite their friends over to see how the sloppy American leaves trash thrown around, but I guess I am relieved. Anything is better than having to fight a monkey.
What is a tanuki, you ask? They are an animal that only exist in Japan. For lack of a word for this creature, English speakers usually refer to them as “raccoon dogs”. They are known for being mischievous and are extremely aloof. They are nocturnal and their sightings are rare.
These cartoon statues don’t look much like the real thing, but they are found all over Japan.
Tanukis are characterized in many traditional Japanese stories. In addition to being known for their mischievousness, they are also known for having extremely large testicles.