One of my favorite online fabric stores, Reprodepot.com, has some fabric with Japanese fairy tales on it. Now I know the European fairy tales I grew up on are rather violent and disturbing in their original form, but I don't think I'd buy fabric that depicts the wolf actually eating Little Red Riding Hood's grandma.
I had to know what on earth was going on with a raccoon on fire and dead, so naturally I looked it up. The first hit was, conveniently, a Wikipedia entry that tells the story. Here's my synopsis.
A tanuki, which is (also according to Wikipedia) a raccoon dog (not a raccoon) is caught by a farmer who is going to make soup out of him, but the tanuki persuades the farmer's wife to let him go while the farmer is out. The tuniki then kills the farmers wife, makes soup out of her, assumes the shape of the farmer's wife, and feeds the soup to the husband when he comes home. Then the tanuki changes back so the farmer can see what's happened. The tanuki runs away while the farmer is still in shock. The farmer is friends with a rabbit who offers to avenge the death of the farmer's wife. The rabbit drops a bee's nest on the tanuki, "treats" the wounds with a peppery poultice, and sets him on fire. Finally he challenges the tanuki to a race across a lake but the tanuki makes his boat out of mud, which dissolves, and he drowns.
I just can't get over a fabric that shows a cartoon-like raccoon (ok, raccoon dog), on fire, drowning, and dead - complete with little x's for eyes.
There are a few other Japanese fairy tales depicted in fabric, but they don't quite show the level of violence as the one about the tanuki. It was interesting to read the stories. All cultures, it seems, have tales that are told to children to warn them of the consequences of bad behavior, poor choices, etc. They're told and retold in a variety of ways and although the creatures and locations are different depending on the culture, the themes are pretty much the same.
So what do you think, shall I make a nice little tote bag out of the fabric? It would be a conversation starter, that's for sure!