Wild animal’s surprise appearance makes people wonder if this was a shapeshifting salaryman on his way home from work.

On 2 September, a rather unusual commuter was spotted at Shinjuku Station, walking boldly towards the ticket gates amongst thousands of other commuters.

It even had its own personal usher on hand, in the form of a station employee, who was clearing a path for it and ensuring passersby gave it a wide berth, but this was no superstar or international celebrity — it was a wild animal called a tanuki. 

This bushy-tailed raccoon dog attracted nearly as much attention as a celebrity, with passersby stopping to film it as it made its way through the station. Even domesticated animals like cats and dogs are hardly seen at the station, so seeing a tanuki, a wild animal that’s said to shapeshift in Japanese mythology, was a rare spectacle.

What made its appearance even more startling was the way it wasn’t cowering from humans or scuttling towards the nearest hidey-hole — it walked boldly and with purpose through the station, as if it were a shapeshifting salaryman on its way home from work.

▼ Take a look at this video, taken at the scene by Twitter user @core_kaopy, which has so far racked up over 6 million views.

Was it a wild tanuki, someone’s lost pet, or a human in disguise? The truth behind the animal’s origins remain unclear, but according to @core_kaopy, the tanuki was first discovered on one of the station platforms at around 9:30 p.m. Station staff guided it from the platform, with the animal going up the stairs and towards the New South Exit, where this video was taken, before it eventually walked through the ticket gates and disappeared into the night. 

The mystery of the tanuki at Shinjuku Station is made all the more intriguing by the fact that the actual mascot character for the station is…a tanuki called Tanutanu, who’s said to love trains and often goes for strolls around Shinjuku Station.

▼ Tanutanu has a whirl on its stomach, which first appeared when it got lost going round and round inside the labyrinthine station.

Image ©SoraNews24

So now we have a fourth option — was this a wild tanuki, someone’s lost pet, a human in disguise, or…Tanutanu?

With the animal running off into the night after its surprise stroll through Shinjuku Station, the busiest station in the world, we may never know the answer to this mystery. Much like the unsolved mystery of the Japanese night heron who once appeared at the very same station, looking like a dishevelled salaryman stripped of his suitcase and suit.

Source, images: Twitter/@core_kaopy
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[ Read in Japanese ]