Feature How Japanese Folklore Inspired Marios Tanooki Suit

The Mario franchise has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the world of video games, with its iconic characters and innovative gameplay. One particular aspect that has captured the imagination of players for decades is Mario’s ability to transform into various forms. Among his many memorable transformations is the beloved Tanooki Suit, which grants him the power to glide and attack enemies with his tail. But did you know that this unique power-up was inspired by Japanese folklore? In this feature, we will delve into the rich tapestry of Japanese mythology and explore how it influenced the creation of Mario’s famous Tanooki Suit.

How Japanese Folklore Inspired Mario’s Tanooki Suit – Feature …

For decades, Nintendo’s iconic character Mario has been donning the classic Tanooki suit – an item featured in classic games such as Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario 3D Land. While it may come as no surprise to find that this lovable outfit was created by Japanese developers, what may be lesser known is the strong ties the Tanooki Suit has to Japanese folklore.

Origins of the Tanooki

The Tanooki suit first appeared in the 1986 game Super Mario Bros 3 and was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s acclaimed creator of games such as The Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong. Miyamoto drew inspiration from Japanese mythology when creating the suit, borrowing liberally from animal-based folklore characters known as “Tanuki” or “Kitsune” – both of which have supernatural powers. The traditional tanuki is a raccoon-like fox character who can shape shift and assume other forms; while kitsune adds an extra layer with its mythological associations with nine tails.

Miyamoto also infused elements from popular culture into the design: he patterned the appearance of Mario’s outfit after a pair of traditional Japanese festival costumes called Happi Coats. Though somewhat simplified for game appearance, these jackets remain recognizable in their bright colors and loose fitting style.

Iconic Symbolism

The Tanooki Suit has become one of Nintendo’s most recognizable symbols; its place in gaming culture firmly cemented over time thanks to multiple appearances since its first debut. Appearing in multiple forms including statues/statuesque power-ups throughout various titles, it also became a meme during 2010 following its use by meme-magnet celebrity Justin Bieber during one of his promotional tours.


The VERY Messed Up Origins of Tanooki Mario
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