たんたん狸 (tan tan tanuki)
“a balanced tanuki”
This top is an abstract depiction of a tanuki, a kind of Japanese raccoon dog. Tanuki are significant figures in Japanese folklore, often appearing in stories as shapeshifting mischief-makers. In nature, male tanuki have unusually large testicles, which are often humorously depicted oversized in Japanese art, sometimes slung over the tanuki’s shoulder like a backpack or being used as drums. For this top, Hiroi-sensei has created a yajirobee, a kind of balancing toy, using the tanuki’s testicles as the balances.
Hiroi Michiaki: This is a tanuki.
Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah.
Hiroi: How much should I… he’s hard to explain, huh. Hahahaha. In old [stories, the tanuki’s testicles] were really big. Hahaha. [The top] becomes a balancing toy (yajirobee). This is pretty funny.