A little over two years, my wife and I visited Japan for about two weeks. She had lived there for a year when she was in college and had wanted to go back ever since. I love to travel and see new places in general, and Japan has been high on my list for years and years. So it was a no-brainer. One of my wife's best friends had moved back home to Japan not too long before, so we even had someone to stay with.
While planning the trip, my wife was putting together a list of things we wanted to see and do. She asked for my input and my first (mostly joking) response was that I wanted to see a tanuki. My awareness of Japan as a country pretty much began with the Nintendo Entertainment System and the little cultural elements that would show up here and there in many of the games. Super Mario Brothers 3 made the tanuki a symbol of Japan in my mind at an early age.
|It's like a raccoon, but not|
Seeing the tanuki was sort of an omen for the trip; it was if anything an even better vacation than I had anticipated and we're planning to try and go back next year. I don't expect to see a tanuki again, but hopefully this one is still doing well, hanging in Meiji Jingu, and enjoying his peanuts.