The Magic Raccoon Kettle goes something like this.
Once upon a time, there lived a family of four raccoons (the father, the mother, and two children) in a forest behind Morin-ji. During a particularly cold winter, the family couldn't find food and at last had nothing to eat. The father said to the family, "I'll change myself into a kettle for a tea ceremony. Honey, you change into a human, take me to the market, and sell me. The money should feed the family for a while." The mother hesitated but thought she had no choice but do as she was told in order to feed the family.
The kettle for the tea ceremony, which was the father in reality, ended up on the shelf of an antique shop. A Buddhist monk from Morin-ji Temple bought the kettle. One day, the monk tried to boil water with the kettle and put it on a stove. Soon after, with the cry of "Ouch", a tail and four legs appeared from it, and it immediately turned into a raccoon. Flabbergasted, the monk called out for the temple servants. In the meantime, the father changed himself back into a kettle.
At that moment, a thrift shop owner passed by, and the monk sold the kettle to him. On the evening after he bought the kettle, the shop owner was awakened by the father who changed himself back into a raccoon. The father opened up to the shop owner and told him everything. Then he begged, "Please don't sell me to anyone. If you promise not to sell me, I will do something for you to make you rich."
When the shop owner agreed, the father called his family members together. Then, the family started to perform an acrobatics show in front of the thrift shop. The show attracted many spectators. From then on, there was a big crowd in front of the shop day in and day out. In a matter of months, the shop owner became very rich.
The shop owner was grateful to the raccoon family, so he gave half of what he earned to the family in return. With the money, the family was going to return to the mountains behind Morin-ji. However, they couldn't because the father was not able to change himself back into a raccoon. The father contemplated and thought that this must be the punishment he was given for beguiling the monk at Morin-ji. The father decided to apologize to him. He went there and said sorry to him, but he still couldn't change back into a raccoon.
The monk at Morin-ji decided to keep the father as the kettle for the tea ceremony. He placed it on a gorgeous cushion and cherished it. Meanwhile, a rumor spread that if you see it and pray, you'll become happy. The kettle for the tea ceremony had become known as Bunbuku Chagama (which literally means a kettle for the tea ceremony that spreads happiness). The Bunbuku Chagama still remains at Morin-ji and has been taken good care of. This is the end of the folk tale.
Morin-ji Temple has 22 raccoon statues inside the temple grounds, and 808 raccoon collection items in the main hall. You can see the raccoon statues in a different costume every season. In spring, weeping cherry trees bloom very beautifully inside the temple grounds. On the third Saturday of every month, a flea market is held, which attracts many visitors.
Sightseeing spot near Morin-ji Temple:
The Treasure Garden is adjacent to Morin-ji Temple and has flower gardens of many varieties such as moss pink, baby blue eyes, poppies, etc.
Address: 1570 Horiku-cho, Tatebayashi MAP
(10-minute walk from Tobu Isesaki Line’s Morinjimae Station)