FANTASTIC 13TH – A CHRONICLE OF MAGICAL CREATURES: Kitsune, or the Nine-Tailed Fox

Fox at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA
Arctic Fox at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA
After seeing quite a few of these cute, cunning little creatures and reading stories and myths involving them, I couldn’t help but write a blog post involving foxes. I hope you enjoy learning about them as much as I did! ~Editor Sandy

 

WHAT IS IT?

Foxes are a clever species often used in literature, but there’s one type that stands out among the rest: the kitsune, or nine-tailed fox, a symbol of wisdom in Asian mythology. Not all of them have nine tails, though – they gain those with age and wisdom. Many stories have accounts of kitsunes with one, five, seven, or nine tails. When they gain their ninth tail, their fur turns white or gold. It is said that the kitsune can transform into human shape, often a beautiful woman whose face has fox-like features. They can also duplicate a person, changing into that person’s form.

 

ORIGIN

Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox, but there are legends of the nine-tailed fox in other Asian cultures, such as the huli jing of China and the kumiho of Korea. You’ll also find at least one nine-tailed fox in the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, namely The Wedding of Mrs. Fox in which, depending on the version you read, Mr. Fox either pretends to be dead or is dead and Mrs. Fox is picky about finding a new mate. He at least has to have nine tails like Mr. Fox.

 

In Japanese mythology, there are two types of kitsune: good ones who are associated with Inari, the goddess of rice, and not so great ones who cause mischief. Those are probably the ones that turn into beautiful women to lure men.

 

Check out this YouTube video to enjoy Japanese music while learning more about this fantastic creature!

 

 

MODERN USE

The nine-tailed fox is big in anime. Just look at Pokémon with Vulpix and, of course, Ninetails. Flareon, Eevee’s firetype evolution, would probably also qualify. Like the kitsune myths, they can breath fire and shoot fire out of their tales. Check out these other examples of kitsune in popular culture!

 

 

UNIQUE IDEAS

According to the YouTube video, humans aren’t supposed to witness a kitsune wedding. But what if a kitsune fell in love with a human? Here’s a good story idea (you’re welcome!): imagine a kitsune is turning into a beautiful woman to lure a man to trick him, but she keeps playing a trick on the same guy until she realizes she loves him. What does she do?

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