Raccoons Were Imported To Japan By?
Answer: Anime Fans
Raccoons are a mammal native to North America best known for their distinct burglar-mask-like facial markings, ringed tails, and habit of raiding trash cans for food (earning them the nickname, in some regions, of “trash pandas”). If you’re a North American reader who is irritated at said trash pandas for messing with, well, your trash, there’s nobody you can really blame—they’ve been in the Americas for tens of thousands of years longer than we have, and they’re a bit of a package deal.
If, on the other hand, you live in Japan, you definitely have somebody you can point your finger at: American author Sterling North. During the early 1960s, Sterling North wrote the award-winning children’s novel Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era, based on his childhood in Wisconsin, including his adventures raising Rascal, a baby raccoon.
The popular novel, in turn, was adapted into a 1977 Japanese anime series by Nippon Animation entitled Rascal the Raccoon (Araiguma Rasukaru). The series was wildly successful with Rascal, briefly at least, being more popular than other animated icons like Mickey Mouse. As a result of the series, up to 1,500 raccoons were imported into Japan as pets each year. Like most pet fads, however, the majority of those raccoons, either through escape or abandonment, ended up in the wild. Today, some decades later, the invasive raccoon population has spread to all 47 prefectures in Japan, and raccoons are as firmly embedded in the ecosystem of Japan as if they’d been there all along.