Our 6 year relationship with our racoon dog (aka Fertility coon, tanuki, fertility doll) began one night at a White Elephant party at Hans and Herta Tschersich. 2001 or so.
Hans and Herta's white elephant party was always full of laughter and the most random white elephant gifts you can imagine! The "tanuki" fit right in. Patrick and I weren't married yet and after we opened it there was nervous laughter and smiles-we had received a fertility doll!! The next year Hans and Herta did not have the white elephant party and we were stuck with the large scrotum'ed, leering 'raccoon dog' holding a bottle of saki.
It sat in our living room for a year or two and was always a conversation piece when people saw it. A friend borrowed it for a year and on the night of our wedding it mysteriously
re-appeared in Patrick's truck. We laughed as we drove away to the hotel.....
Sometime after Nora's birth, it got moved to the shed. While I was pregnant with Stuart, Patrick was ready to clear it out of the shed and pass it on. I insisted on waiting until after Stuart was born. Then it got passed on to proud new owners. At this year's Alutiiq Museum's white elephant party Marnie and Shawen ended up with the ceramic doll, and they actually seemed happy to get it! (see photo above - 6 weeks after the birth of their daughter Abigail).
Brief History of the Tanuki Doll:
Traditional Japanese neighbors of Hans and Herta were working to get pregnant. Their family in Japan sent the doll to help them in their efforts. When they left Kodiak it stayed and became a White Elephant Icon in the early 1990's at Hans and Hertas annual Christmas Party. According to Hans the First couple to receive it had 'immediate success'. Kelly Law also owned it at one time.
Check out more info on the doll at...they're a big deal in Japan!
They are found outside noodle shops and bars. And are modeled on what is known as a 'racoon dog' - a raccoon like animal indigenous to Japan.