The tanuki probably counts as Japan's most misunderstood shapeshifter. To begin with, its animal form is usually called a badger or raccoon, when it is in fact a dog. The real tanuki is a wild species belonging to the dog family that cannot interbreed with domestic dogs, any more than foxes or jackals can. It is rather stupid, mates for life, and is strangely unterritorial. Its range runs from Japan across Asia, and includes parts of Europe.
As it is a tiny little thing the size of a big rabbit, the legends provide two different solutions to the mass problem. Some tanuki shapeshifters changed into giant versions of this rather innocent wild animal. In this form, they could be a threat in a way that would have simply been impossible for a normal-sized tanuki. The other solution was that the size changed but not the weight. Thus, a tanuki could change into a normal woman, but it would have neither the strength nor the weight of a real person.
The tanuki shapeshifter was sometimes limited to just two forms: human and tanuki. Others were master shapeshifters, able to change into an exact copy of any human, as well as other animal forms like the horse, and sometimes even inanimate objects.