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[[Image:Prince Hanzoku terrorised by a nine- tailed fox.jpg|right|thumb|[[Prince Hanzoku]] terrorized by a nine-tailed fox. Print by [[Utagawa Kuniyoshi]], 19th century.]]
{{nihongo|'''Kitsune'''|狐||extra={{IPA2|kitsɯne}}}}({{audio|Kitsune.ogg|Pronunciation)}} is the Japanese word for [[fox]]. Foxes are a common subject of [[Japanese folklore]]; ''kitsune'' usually refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing [[magic (paranormal)|magical]] abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to [[shapeshifting|assume human form]]. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in [[ancient Japan]]; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with [[Inari (mythology)|Inari]], a [[Shinto]] ''[[kami]]'' or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make [[sacrifice|offerings]] to them as to a deity.
[[Image:NineTailsFox.JPG|right|thumb|upright|A nine-tailed fox, from the Qing edition of the [[Shan Hai Jing]].]]
It is widely agreed that many fox myths in Japan can be traced to [[Huli Jing|China]], [[Kumiho|Korea]], or [[Folklore of India|India]]. Chinese folk tales tell of ''[[huli jing|fox spirits]]'' that may have up to nine tails. Many of the earliest surviving stories are recorded in the ''[[Konjaku Monogatari]]'', an 11th-century collection of Chinese, Indian, and Japanese narratives.<ref>Goff, Janet. "Foxes in Japanese culture: beautiful or beastly?" ''Japan Quarterly'' 44:2 (April-June 1997).</ref>
There is debate whether the kitsune myths originated entirely from foreign sources or are in part an indigenous Japanese concept dating as far back as the fifth century BC. Japanese folklorist [[Kiyoshi Nozaki]]{{Who|date=February 2011}} argues that the Japanese regarded kitsune positively as early as the 4th century A.D.; the only things imported from China or Korea were the kitsune's negative attributes.<ref name="Nozaki5">Nozaki, Kiyoshi. ''Kitsune — Japan's Fox of Mystery, Romance, and Humor''. Tokyo: The Hokuseidô Press, 1961. 5</ref> He states that, according to a 16th-century book of records called the ''[[Nihon Ryakki]]'', foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan, and he contends that indigenous legends about the creatures arose as a result.<ref name="Nozaki3">Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 3</ref> [[Inari (mythology)|Inari]] scholar Karen Smyers notes that the idea of the fox as seductress and the connection of the fox myths to [[Buddhism]] were introduced into Japanese folklore through similar Chinese stories, but she maintains that some fox stories contain elements unique to Japan.<ref name="Smyers127128">Smyers, Karen Ann. ''The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship''. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999. 127–128</ref>
[[Image:Vulpes vulpes laying in snow.jpg|thumb|left|Japan is home to two [[red fox]] [[subspecies]]: the Hokkaido fox (''Vulpes vulpes schrencki'', pictured), and the Japanese red fox (''Vulpes vulpes japonica'').]]
The full etymology is unknown. The oldest known usage of the word is in the 794 text ''[[Shin'yaku Kegonkyō Ongi Shiki]]''. Other old sources include [[Nihon Ryōiki]] (810–824) and [[Wamyō Ruijushō]] (c. 934). These oldest sources are written in [[Man'yōgana]] which clearly identifies the [[Jōdai Tokushu Kanazukai|historical spelling]] as ''ki<sub>1</sub>tune''. Following several diachronic phonological changes, this becomes ''kitsune''.
Many etymological suggestions have been made; however, there is no general agreement.
*[[Myōgoki]] (1268) suggests that it is so called because it is "always (''tsune'') yellow (''ki'')".
*Early [[Kamakura period]] [[Mizukagami]] indicates that it means "came (''ki'') [perfective case particle ''tsu''] to bedroom (''ne'')" due to a legend that a kitsune would change into one's wife and bear children.
*[[Arai Hakuseki]] in [[Tōga]] (1717) suggests that ''ki'' means "stench", ''tsu'' is a possessive particle, and ''ne'' is related to ''inu'', the word for "dog".
*[[Tanikawa Kotosuga]] in [[Wakun no Shiori]] (1777–1887) suggests that ''ki'' means "yellow", ''tsu'' is a possessive particle, and ''ne'' is related to ''neko'', the word for cat.
*[[Ōtsuki Fumihiko]] in [[Daigenkai]] (1932–1935) proposes that ''kitsu'' is an [[onomatopoeia]] for the animal, and that ''ne'' is an affix or an honorific word meaning a servant of an [[Inari (mythology)|Inari]] [[Shinto shrine|shrine]].
According to Nozaki, the word ''kitsune'' was originally [[onomatopoeia]].<ref name="Nozaki3"/> ''Kitsu'' represented a fox's yelp and came to be the general word for ''fox''. ''-Ne'' signifies an affectionate mood, which Nozaki presents as further evidence of an established, non-imported tradition of benevolent foxes in Japanese folklore.<ref name="Nozaki5"/> ''Kitsu'' is now archaic; in modern Japanese, a fox's cry is transcribed as ''kon kon'' or ''gon gon''.
One of the oldest surviving kitsune tales provides a widely known [[folk etymology]] of the word ''kitsune''; the story is now known to be false.<ref name="Hamel89">Hamel, Frank. ''Human Animals: Werewolves & Other Transformations''. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1969. 89</ref> Unlike most tales of kitsune who become human and marry human males, this one does not end tragically:<ref>Goff. "Foxes". ''Japan Quarterly'' 44:2</ref><ref name="Smyers72">Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 72</ref>
<blockquote><p>Ono, an inhabitant of Mino (says an ancient Japanese legend of A.D. 545), spent the seasons longing for his ideal of female beauty. He met her one evening on a vast moor and married her. Simultaneously with the birth of their son, Ono's dog was delivered of a pup which as it grew up became more and more hostile to the lady of the moors. She begged her husband to kill it, but he refused. At last one day the dog attacked her so furiously that she lost courage, resumed vulpine shape, leaped over a fence and fled.</p>
<p>"You may be a fox," Ono called after her, "but you are the mother of my son and I love you. Come back when you please; you will always be welcome."</p>
<p>So every evening she stole back and slept in his arms.<ref name="Hamel89"/></p></blockquote>
Because the fox returns to her husband each night as a woman but leaves each morning as a fox, she is called Kitsune. In classical Japanese, ''kitsu-ne'' means ''come and sleep'', and ''ki-tsune'' means ''always comes''.<ref name="Smyers72"/>
[[Image:Fox0290.jpg|thumb|right|upright|Statue of a kitsune at the [[Inari (mythology)|Inari]] shrine adjacent to [[Tōdai-ji]] [[Buddhism|Buddhist]] temple in [[Nara, Nara|Nara]]]]
Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and [[magic (paranormal)|magical]] powers. They are a type of ''[[yōkai]]'', or spiritual entity, and the word ''kitsune'' is often translated as ''fox spirit''. However, this does not mean that kitsune are [[ghost]]s, nor that they are fundamentally different from regular foxes. Because the word ''spirit'' is used to reflect a state of knowledge or enlightenment, all long-lived foxes gain supernatural abilities.<ref name="Smyers127128">Smyers, Karen Ann. ''The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship''. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999. 127–128</ref>
There are two common classifications of kitsune. The {{nihongo|''zenko''|善狐|extra=literally, ''good foxes''}} are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with [[Inari (mythology)|Inari]]-god; they are sometimes simply called ''Inari foxes''. On the other hand, the {{nihongo|''yako''|野狐|extra=literally, ''outsider foxes''}} tend to be mischievous or even malicious.<ref> ''Yōkai no hon'' written by Prof. Abe Masaji & Prof. Ishikawa Junichiro</ref> Local traditions add further types.<ref name="Hearn154">Hearn, Lafcadio. ''Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan''. [ Project Gutenberg e-text edition], 2005. 154</ref> For example, a ''ninko'' is an invisible fox spirit that human beings can only perceive when it [[spiritual possession|possesses]] them. Another tradition classifies kitsune into one of thirteen types defined by which supernatural abilities the kitsune possesses.<ref>Hall, Jamie. ''Half Human, Half Animal: Tales of Werewolves and Related Creatures''. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2003. 139</ref><ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 211–212</ref>
Physically, kitsune are noted for having as many as nine tails.<ref name="Smyers129">Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 129</ref> Generally, a greater number of tails indicates an older and more powerful fox; in fact, some folktales say that a fox will only grow additional tails after it has lived 1,000 years.<ref name="Hamel91"/> One, five, seven, and nine tails are the most common numbers in folk stories.<ref>{{cite web |url= |title=Kitsune, Kumiho, Huli Jing, Fox |accessdate=2006-12-14 |format=html |date=2003-04-28}}</ref> When a kitsune gains its ninth tail, its fur becomes white or gold.<ref name="Smyers129"/> These {{Nihongo|''kyūbi no kitsune''|九尾の狐||nine-tailed foxes}} gain the abilities to see and hear anything happening anywhere in the world. Other tales attribute them infinite wisdom ([[omniscience]]).<ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 159</ref>
[[Image:Obake Karuta 3-01.jpg|left|thumb|This ''[[karuta|obake karuta]]'' (monster card) from the early 19th century depicts a kitsune. The associated game involves matching clues from folklore to pictures of specific creatures.]]
A kitsune may [[shapeshifting|take on human form]], an ability learned when it reaches a certain age — usually 100 years, although some tales say 50.<ref name="Hamel91">Hamel. ''Human Animals''. 91</ref> As a common prerequisite for the transformation, the fox must place reeds, a broad leaf, or a skull over its head.<ref name="Nozaki2526">Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 25–26</ref> Common forms assumed by kitsune include beautiful women, young girls, or elderly men. These shapes are not limited by the fox's age or gender,<ref name="Smyers127128"/> and a kitsune can duplicate the appearance of a specific person.<ref>Hall. ''Half Human''. 145</ref> Foxes are particularly renowned for impersonating beautiful women. Common belief in [[History of Japan#Feudal Japan|medieval Japan]] was that any woman encountered alone, especially at dusk or night, could be a fox.<ref name="Tyler xlix">Tyler xlix.</ref>
In some stories, kitsune have difficulty hiding their tails when they take human form; looking for the tail, perhaps when the fox gets drunk or careless, is a common method of discerning the creature's true nature.<ref name="Ashkenazy148">Ashkenazy, Michael. ''Handbook of Japanese Mythology''. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. 148</ref> Variants on the theme have the kitsune retain other foxlike traits, such as a coating of fine hair, a fox-shaped shadow, or a reflection that shows its true form.<ref name="Hearn155">Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 155</ref> ''Kitsune-gao'' or ''fox-faced'' refers to human females who have a narrow face with close-set eyes, thin eyebrows, and high cheekbones. Traditionally, this facial structure is considered attractive, and some tales ascribe it to foxes in human form.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 95, 206</ref> Kitsune have a fear and hatred of dogs even while in human form, and some become so rattled by the presence of dogs that they revert to the shape of a fox and flee. A particularly devout individual may be able to see through a fox's disguise automatically.<ref>Heine, Steven. ''Shifting Shape, Shaping Text: Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Koan''. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999. 153</ref>
One folk story illustrating these imperfections in the kitsune's human shape concerns [[Koan]], a historical person credited with wisdom and magical powers of [[divination]]. According to the story, he was staying at the home of one of his devotees when he scalded his foot entering a bath because the water had been drawn too hot. Then, "in his pain, he ran out of the bathroom naked. When the people of the household saw him, they were astonished to see that Koan had fur covering much of his body, along with a fox's tail. Then Koan transformed in front of them, becoming an elderly fox and running away."<ref>Hall. ''Half Human''. 144</ref>
Other supernatural abilities commonly attributed to the kitsune include possession, mouths or tails that generate fire or lightning (known as ''kitsune-bi''; literally, ''fox-fire''), willful manifestation in the dreams of others, flight, invisibility, and the creation of [[illusion]]s so elaborate as to be almost indistinguishable from reality.<ref name="Nozaki2526"/><ref name="Hearn155"/> Some tales speak of kitsune with even greater powers, able to bend time and space, drive people mad, or take fantastic shapes such as a tree of incredible height or a second moon in the sky.<ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 156–157</ref><ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 36–37</ref> Other kitsune have characteristics reminiscent of [[vampire]]s or [[succubus|succubi]] and feed on the life or spirit of human beings, generally through sexual contact.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 26, 221</ref>
[[Image:Lame-renard-p1000662.jpg|left|thumb|upright|[[Inari (mythology)|Inari]] and her fox spirits help the blacksmith [[Munechika]] forge the blade ''kogitsune-maru'' (Little Fox) at the end of the 10th century. The legend is the subject of the [[noh]] drama ''[[Sanjō Kokaji]]''.]]
''Kitsunetsuki'' (狐憑き or 狐付き; also written ''kitsune-tsuki'') literally means ''the state of being possessed by a fox''. The victim is always a young woman, whom the fox enters beneath her fingernails or through her breasts.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 59</ref>In some cases, the victims' facial expressions are said to change in such a way that they resemble those of a fox. Japanese tradition holds that fox possession can cause illiterate victims to temporarily gain the ability to read.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 216</ref> Though foxes in Folklore can possess a person of their own will, ''Kitsunetsuki'' is often attributed to the malign intents of a hereditary [[Witchcraft#Japan|fox employers]], or ''tsukimono-suji''.<ref></ref>
Folklorist [[Lafcadio Hearn]] describes the condition in the first volume of his ''Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan'':
<blockquote>Strange is the madness of those into whom demon foxes enter. Sometimes they run naked shouting through the streets. Sometimes they lie down and froth at the mouth, and yelp as a fox yelps. And on some part of the body of the possessed a moving lump appears under the skin, which seems to have a life of its own. Prick it with a needle, and it glides instantly to another place. By no grasp can it be so tightly compressed by a strong hand that it will not slip from under the fingers. Possessed folk are also said to speak and write languages of which they were totally ignorant prior to possession. They eat only what foxes are believed to like &mdash; [[tofu]], ''[[aburaage|aburagé]]'', ''[[azukimeshi]]'', etc. &mdash; and they eat a great deal, alleging that not they, but the possessing foxes, are hungry.<ref name="Hearn158">Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 158</ref></blockquote>
He goes on to note that, once freed from the possession, the victim will never again be able to eat tofu, ''azukimeshi'', or other foods favored by foxes.
[[Exorcism]], often performed at an Inari shrine, may induce a fox to leave its host.<ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 90</ref> In the past, when such gentle measures failed or a priest was not available, victims of ''kitsunetsuki'' were beaten or badly burned in hopes of forcing the fox to leave. Entire families were ostracized by their communities after a member of the family was thought to be possessed.<ref name="Hearn158"/>
In Japan, ''kitsunetsuki'' was noted as a disease as early as the [[Heian period]] and remained a common diagnosis for [[mental illness]] until the early 20th century.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 211</ref><ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 165</ref> Possession was the explanation for the abnormal behavior displayed by the afflicted individuals. In the late 19th century, Dr. Shunichi Shimamura noted that physical diseases that caused fever were often considered ''kitsunetsuki''.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 214–215</ref> The belief has lost favor, but stories of fox possession still appear in the tabloid press and popular media. One notable occasion involved allegations that members of the [[Aum Shinrikyo]] cult had been possessed.<ref>Downey, Jean Miyake. "Ten Thousand Things." [,000things/039.html ''Kyoto Journal'' 63]. Retrieved on [[December 13]] [[2006]].</ref>
In medicine, ''kitsunetsuki'' is an ethnic [[psychosis]] unique to [[Japanese culture]]. Those who suffer from the condition believe they are possessed by a fox.<ref>Haviland, William A. ''Cultural Anthropology'', 10th ed. New York: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 2002. 144–145</ref> Symptoms include cravings for rice or sweet [[Azuki bean|red beans]], listlessness, restlessness, and aversion to eye contact. ''Kitsunetsuki'' is similar to but distinct from [[clinical lycanthropy]].<ref>Yonebayashi, T. "Kitsunetsuki (Possession by Foxes)". ''Transcultural Psychiatry'' 1:2 (1964). 95–97</ref>
===''Hoshi no tama''===
[[Image:Hiroshige-100-views-of-edo-fox-fires.jpg|right|thumb|upright|Kitsune glowing with fox-fire gather near [[Edo]]. Print by [[Hiroshige]].]]
Depictions of kitsune or their possessed victims may feature round or onion-shaped white balls known as ''hoshi no tama'' (''star balls''). Tales describe these as glowing with ''kitsune-bi'', or fox-fire.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 183</ref> Some stories identify them as magical jewels or pearls.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 169–170</ref> When not in human form or possessing a human, a kitsune keeps the ball in its mouth or carries it on its tail.<ref name="Hamel91"/> Jewels are a common symbol of Inari, and representations of sacred Inari foxes without them are rare.<ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 112–114</ref>
One belief is that when a ''kitsune'' changes shape, its ''hoshi no tama'' holds a portion of its magical power. Another tradition is that the pearl represents the kitsune's soul; the kitsune will die if separated from it for long. Those who obtain the ball may be able to extract a promise from the ''kitsune'' to help them in exchange for its return.<ref>Hall. ''Half Human''. 149</ref> For example, a 12th-century tale describes a man using a fox's ''hoshi no tama'' to secure a favor:
<blockquote>"Confound you!" snapped the fox. "Give me back my ball!" The man ignored its pleas till finally it said tearfully, "All right, you've got the ball, but you don't know how to keep it. It won't be any good to you. For me, it's a terrible loss. I tell you, if you don't give it back, I'll be your enemy forever. If you ''do'' give it back though, I'll stick to you like a protector god."</blockquote>
The fox later saves his life by leading him past a band of armed bandits.<ref>Tyler 299–300.</ref>
[[Image:A man confronted with an apparition of the Fox goddess.jpg|left|thumb|upright|[[Inari (mythology)|Inari]] appears to a warrior. This portrayal of Inari shows the influence of [[Dakini]]ten concepts from Buddhism. Print by [[Utagawa Kuniyoshi]].]]
===Servants of Inari===
Kitsune are associated with Inari, the [[Shinto]] deity of rice.<ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 76</ref> This association has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance.<ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 153</ref> Originally, kitsune were Inari's messengers, but the line between the two is now blurred so that Inari himself may be depicted as a fox. Likewise, entire shrines are dedicated to kitsune, where devotees can leave [[offering]]s.<ref name="Hearn154"/> Fox spirits are particularly fond of a fried sliced tofu called ''[[aburage]]'', which is accordingly found in kitsune [[udon]] and kitsune [[soba]]. Similarly, ''Inari-zushi'' is a type of [[sushi]] named for Inari that consists of rice-filled pouches of fried tofu.<ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 96</ref> There is speculation among folklorists as to whether another Shinto fox deity existed in the past. Foxes have long been worshipped as ''kami''.<ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 77, 81</ref>
Inari's kitsune are white, a color of good [[omen]].<ref name="Hearn154"/> They possess the power to ward off evil, and they sometimes serve as guardian spirits. In addition to protecting Inari shrines, they are petitioned to intervene on behalf of the locals and particularly to aid against troublesome ''nogitsune''. Black foxes and nine-tailed foxes are likewise considered good omens.<ref name="Ashkenazy148"/>
According to beliefs derived from ''fusui'' (''[[feng shui]]''), the fox's power over evil is such that a mere statue of a fox can dispel the evil ''[[qi|kimon]]'', or energy, that flows from the northeast. Many Inari shrines, such as the famous [[Fushimi Inari]] shrine in [[Kyoto]], feature such statues, sometimes large numbers of them.
Kitsune are connected to the Buddhist religion through the [[Dakini]]ten, goddesses conflated with Inari's female aspect. Dakiniten is depicted as a female [[boddhisattva]] wielding a sword and riding a flying white fox.<ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 82–85</ref>
[[Image:Fushimi Inari mini torii.jpg|right|thumb|upright|The [[Fushimi Inari]] shrine in [[Kyoto, Japan|Kyoto]] features numerous kitsune statues.]]
Kitsune are often presented as [[trickster]]s, with motives that vary from mischief to malevolence. Stories tell of kitsune playing tricks on overly proud [[samurai]], greedy merchants, and boastful commoners, while the crueler ones abuse poor tradesmen and farmers or devout Buddhist monks. Their victims are usually men; women are possessed instead.<ref name="Tyler xlix"/> For example, kitsune are thought to employ their ''kitsune-bi'' or fox-fire to lead travelers astray in the manner of a [[will o' the wisp]].<ref>Addiss, Stephen. ''Japanese Ghosts & Demons: Art of the Supernatural''. New York: G. Braziller, 1985. 137</ref><ref>Hall. ''Half Human''. 142</ref> Another tactic is for the kitsune to confuse its target with illusions or visions.<ref name="Tyler xlix"/> Other common goals of trickster kitsune include seduction, theft of food, humiliation of the prideful, or vengeance for a perceived slight.
A traditional game called ''kitsune-ken'' (''fox-fist'') references the kitsune's powers over human beings. The game is similar to [[rock, paper, scissors]], but the three hand positions signify a fox, a hunter, and a village headman. The headman beats the hunter, whom he outranks; the hunter beats the fox, whom he shoots; the fox beats the headman, whom he bewitches.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 230</ref><ref>Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 98</ref>
This ambiguous portrayal, coupled with their reputation for vengefulness, leads people to try to discover a troublesome fox's motives. In one case, [[Toyotomi Hideyoshi]], a high government official, wrote a letter to the ''kami'' Inari:
<blockquote><p>To Inari Daimyojin,</p>
<p>My lord, I have the honor to inform you that one of the foxes under your jurisdiction has bewitched one of my servants, causing her and others a great deal of trouble. I have to request that you make minute inquiries into the matter, and endeavor to find out the reason of your subject misbehaving in this way, and let me know the result.</p>
<p>If it turns out that the fox has no adequate reason to give for his behavior, you are to arrest and punish him at once. If you hesitate to take action in this matter I shall issue orders for the destruction of every fox in the land. Any other particulars that you may wish to be informed of in reference to what has occurred, you can learn from the high priest of [[Yoshida, Shizuoka|Yoshida]].<ref>Hall. ''Half Human''. 137</ref></p></blockquote>
[[Image:Tamamo-no-mae-woodblock.jpg|right|thumb|upright|[[Tamamo-no-Mae]], a legendary kitsune featured in [[noh]] and [[kyogen]] plays. Print by [[Yoshitoshi]].]]
Kitsune keep their promises and strive to repay any favor. Occasionally a kitsune attaches itself to a person or household, where they can cause all sorts of mischief. In one story from the 12th century, only the homeowner's threat to exterminate the foxes convinces them to behave. The kitsune patriarch appears in the man's dreams:
<blockquote>"My father lived here before me, sir, and by now I have many children and grandchildren. They get into a lot of mischief, I'm afraid, and I'm always after them to stop, but they never listen. And now, sir, you're understandably fed up with us. I gather that you're going to kill us all. But I just want you to know, sir, how sorry I am that this is our last night of life. Won't you pardon us, one more time? If we ever make trouble again, then of course you must act as you think best. But the young ones, sir — I'm ''sure'' they'll understand when I explain to them why you're so upset. We'll do everything we can to protect you from now on, if only you'll forgive us, and we'll be sure to let you know when anything good is going to happen!"<ref>Tyler 114–5.</ref></blockquote>
Other kitsune use their magic for the benefit of their companion or hosts as long as the human beings treat them with respect. As ''yōkai'', however, kitsune do not share human morality, and a kitsune who has adopted a house in this manner may, for example, bring its host money or items that it has stolen from the neighbors. Accordingly, common households thought to harbor kitsune are treated with suspicion.<ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 159–161</ref> Oddly, samurai families were often reputed to share similar arrangements with kitsune, but these foxes were considered ''zenko'' and the use of their magic a sign of prestige.<ref>Hall. ''Half Human''. 148</ref> Abandoned homes were common haunts for kitsune.<ref name="Tyler xlix"/> One 12th-century story tells of a minister moving into an old mansion only to discover a family of foxes living there. They first try to scare him away, then claim that the house "has been ours for many years, and . . . we wish to register a vigorous protest." The man refuses, and the foxes resign themselves to moving to an abandoned lot nearby.<ref>Tyler 122–4.</ref>
Tales distinguish kitsune gifts from kitsune payments. If a kitsune offers a payment or reward that includes money or material wealth, part or all of the sum will consist of old paper, leaves, twigs, stones, or similar valueless items under a magical illusion.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 195</ref><ref name="Smeyers103105">Smyers. ''The Fox and the Jewel''. 103–105</ref> True kitsune gifts are usually intangibles, such as protection, knowledge, or long life.<ref name="Smeyers103105"/>
[[Image:Kuniyoshi Kuzunoha.jpg|left|thumb|upright|The kitsune [[Kuzunoha]] casts a fox's shadow even in human form. Kuzunoha is a popular figure in folklore and the subject of [[kabuki]] plays. Print by [[Utagawa Kuniyoshi]].]]
===Wives and lovers===
Kitsune are commonly portrayed as lovers, usually in stories involving a young human male and a kitsune who takes the form of a human woman.<ref>Hamel. ''Human Animals''. 90</ref> The kitsune may be a seductress, but these stories are more often romantic in nature.<ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 157</ref> Typically, the young man unknowingly marries the fox, who proves a devoted wife. The man eventually discovers the fox's true nature, and the fox-wife is forced to leave him. In some cases, the husband wakes as if from a dream, filthy, disoriented, and far from home. He must then return to confront his abandoned family in shame.
Many stories tell of fox-wives bearing children. When such progeny are human, they possess special physical or [[supernatural]] qualities that often pass to their own children.<ref name="Ashkenazy148"/> The [[astrology|astrologer]]-magician [[Abe no Seimei]] was reputed to have inherited such extraordinary powers.<ref name="Ashkenazy">Ashkenazy. ''Handbook''. 150</ref>
Other stories tell of kitsune marrying one another. Rain falling from a clear sky &mdash; a [[sunshower]] &mdash; is sometimes called ''kitsune no yomeiri'' or ''the kitsune's wedding'', in reference to a folktale describing a wedding ceremony between the creatures being held during such conditions.<ref>Addiss. ''Ghosts & Demons''. 132</ref> The event is considered a good omen, but the kitsune will seek revenge on any uninvited guests.<ref>Vaux, Bert. [ "Sunshower summary"]. ''LINGUIST List'' 9.1795 (Dec. 1998). A compilation of terms for sun showers from various cultures and languages. Retrieved on [[December 13]] [[2006]].</ref>
Stephen Turnbull, in "Nagashino 1575", relates the tale of the Takeda clan's involvement with a fox-woman. The warlord Takeda Shingen, in 1544, defeated in battle a lesser local warlord named Suwa Yorishige and drove him to suicide after a "humiliating and spurious" peace conference, after which Shingen forced marriage on his beautiful 14-year-old daughter Lady Koi — Shingen's own niece. Shingen, Turnbull writes, "was so obsessed with the girl that his superstitious followers became alarmed and believed her to be an incarnation of the white fox-spirit of the Suwa Shrine, who had bewitched him in order to gain revenge." When their son Takeda Katsuyori proved to be a disastrous leader and led the clan to their devastating defeat at the battle of Nagashino, Turnbull writes, "wise old heads nodded, remembering the unhappy circumstances of his birth and his magical mother".
===In fiction===
Embedded in Japanese folklore as they are, kitsune appear in numerous Japanese works. [[Noh]], [[kyogen]], [[bunraku]], and [[kabuki]] plays derived from folk tales feature them,<ref>Hearn. ''Glimpses''. 162–163</ref><ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 109–124</ref> as do contemporary works such as [[anime]], [[manga]] and [[video game]]s. Western authors of fiction have begun to make use of the kitsune legends. Although these portrayals vary considerably, kitsune are generally depicted in accordance with folk stories, as wise, cunning, and powerful beings.
In [[Akira Kurosawa]]'s 1985 film ''[[Ran]]'', the wily, vengeful Lady Kaede is accused of being a fox spirit. Kaede is clever, manipulative and strong as she sows discord within her husband's clan. After her husband is killed, she seduces his brother and insists that he kill his wife. In Kurosawa's later film ''[[Dreams (film)|Dreams]]'', a small boy learns firsthand the danger of witnessing a fox wedding.
In [[Neil Gaiman]]'s illustrated story [[The Dream Hunters]], the main character is a kitsune who falls in love with a Buddhist monk and the lengths she goes to in order to protect him from a murderous rival. The story concentrates on the fox's craftiness and cunning, along with her vindictive thirst for revenge.
A character by the name Kitsune appears in the ''[[The Myth Hunters]]'' and ''[[The Borderkind]]'' by [[Christopher Golden]]. She is modeled on the general Kitsune legend, and helps out on the quest of the main character, Oliver Bascombe. Unlike the myth she doesn't have nine tails, but keeps the ability to change into a fox at will. As a woman she is described as exceptionally beautiful, with vivid jade eyes that glow and wears a reddish fur coat.
In [[Naruto]], a manga/anime story that takes place in a Japanese influenced modern day styled world - The {{nihongo|Nine-Tailed Demon Fox|九尾の妖狐|Kyūbi no Yōko}} is the most powerful of the Tailed Beasts; The personality and abilities of the title character [[Naruto Uzumaki]] also makes references to kitsune. Naruto is known to be a prankster and invented the Sexy Technique, a jutsu that allows him to transform into a beautiful woman. Additionally, an important trait Naruto exhibits is his refusal to break a promise that he has given, a trait that kitsune share.
[[Kuzunoha]], mother of [[Abe no Seimei]], is a well-known kitsune character in traditional Japanese theater. She is featured in the five-part bunraku and kabuki play ''[[Ashiya Dōman Ōuchi Kagami]]'' (''The Mirror of Ashiya Dōman and Ōuchi''). The fourth part, ''Kuzunoha'' or ''The Fox of Shinoda Wood'', is often performed independently of the other scenes and tells of the discovery of Kuzunoha's kitsune nature and her subsequent departure from her husband and child.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 110–111</ref><ref>{{cite web |url= |title=Ashiya Dōman Ōuchi Kagami |accessdate=2006-12-12 |format=php |work=}}</ref>
[[Tamamo-no-Mae]] is the subject of the noh drama ''[[Sesshoseki (noh)|Sesshoseki]]'' (''The Death Stone'') and of kabuki and kyogen plays titled ''Tamamonomae'' (''The Beautiful Fox Witch''). Tamamo-no-Mae commits evil deeds in India, China, and Japan but is discovered and dies. Her spirit transforms into the "killing stone" of the noh play's title. She is eventually redeemed by the Buddhist priest Gennō.<ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 112–113, 122–123</ref><ref>{{cite web |url= |title=Noh synopsis: Sesshoseki |accessdate=2006-12-12 |format=html |work= The Mibu-Dera Kyogen Pantomimes}}</ref><ref>{{cite web |url= |title=Tamamonomae Pantomime |accessdate=2006-12-12 |format=html |work= The Mibu-Dera Kyogen Pantomimes}}</ref>
[[Genkurō]] is a kitsune renowned for his filial piety. In the bunraku and kabuki drama ''[[Yoshitsune Sembon Zakura]]'' (''[[Minamoto no Yoshitsune|Yoshitsune]] and the Thousand Cherry Trees''), Yoshitsune's lover, [[Shizuka Gozen|Lady Shizuka]], owns a [[tsuzumi|hand-drum]] made from the skins of Genkuro's parents. The fox takes human form and becomes his retainer, Satō Tadanobu, but his identity is revealed. The kitsune explains that he hears the voice of his parents when the drum is struck. Yoshitsune and Shizuka give him the drum, so Genkuro grants Yoshitsune magical protection..<ref name="Ashkenazy"/><ref>Nozaki. ''Kitsune''. 114–116</ref><ref>{{cite web |url= |title=Yoshinoyama: Yoshitsune Senbon Sakura |accessdate=2006-12-12 |format=php |work=}}</ref>
The myth [[Tamamo-no-Mae]] is referenced in the video game ''[[Ōkami]]''.
[[Miles "Tails" Prower]] from the ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog]]'' video game series is said by several sources to be a kitsune, due to him having two tails.
The ''[[Pokémon]]''s [[Vulpix]] and [[Ninetails]] and the ''[[Digimon]]'' [[Renamon]], as well as their evolutions, are based on kitsune and similar fox legends.
The ''[[InuYasha]]'' Character [[Shippo]] is a kitsune demon. The same [[mangaka]]'s ([[Rumiko Takahashi]]) earlier work [[Urusei Yatsura]] also features a fox spirit named Kitsune who becomes a loyal companion to one of the series leads, [[Shinobu Miyake]], and can transform into "chibi" versions (with fox ears) of the other characters from the series.
[[Ran Yakumo]] from ''[[Touhou]]'', [[Yukari Yakumo]]'s [[shikigami]], is also a kitsune.
[[Youko Kurama]] from ''[[YuYu Hakusho]]'' is a kitsune spirit living in a human body.
''[[Wagaya no Oinari-sama.]]'' is an anime about a mischievous guardian kitsune.
The series ''[[Usagi Yojimbo]]'' by [[Stan Sakai]] contains a recurring female thief and friend of Usagi named Kitsune.
In the ''[[Star Fox (series)|Star Fox]]'' video game series, the main character [[Fox McCloud]] was partially inspired by kitsune.
In ''[[The Legend of Zelda (series)|The Legend of Zelda]]'' video game series, the Keaton race is based on kitsune.
In [[Kelley Armstrong]]'s short story collection, ''Men of the Otherworld'', the story "Kitsunegari" features several kitsune and a part-kitsune werewolf.
In [[Ljane Smith]]'s The Vampire Diaries - The Return: Nightfall, the main antagonists is a couple of cruel and malevolent kitsune twins, Shinichi and Misao, who are bent on destroying the entire town for their own amusement
In the video game series ''[[Animal Crossing (series)|Animal Crossing]]'' Tom Nook's shopkeeper rival, Crazy Redd, is a kitsune (opposingly as Nook himself is a tanuki.) Redd is known as a trickster in the game, operating the Black Market; he will often sell the player plain objects at inflated prices.
==See also==
* [[Kumiho]], a Korean fox spirit
* [[Huli jing]], a Chinese fox spirit
===Other sources===
<div class="references-small">
* Addiss, Stephen. ''Japanese Ghosts & Demons: Art of the Supernatural''. New York: G. Braziller, 1985. (pp. 132–137) ISBN 0-8076-1126-3
* Ashkenazy, Michael. ''Handbook of Japanese Mythology''. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. ISBN 1-57607-467-6
* Bathgate, Michael. ''The Fox's Craft in Japanese Religion and Folklore: [[shapeshifting|Shapeshifters]], Transformations, and Duplicities''. New York: Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-96821-6
* Hall, Jamie. ''Half Human, Half Animal: Tales of Werewolves and Related Creatures''. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2003. (pp. 121–152) ISBN 1-4107-5809-5
* Hamel, Frank. ''Human Animals: Werewolves & Other Transformations''. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1969. (pp. 88–102) ISBN 0-7661-6700-3
* [[Lafcadio Hearn|Hearn, Lafcadio]]. ''Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan''. [ Project Gutenberg e-text edition], 2005. Retrieved on [[November 20]], [[2006]].
* Heine, Steven. ''Shifting Shape, Shaping Text: Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Koan''. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8248-2150-5
* Johnson, T.W. "Far Eastern Fox Lore". ''Asian Folklore Studies'' 33:1 (1974)
* Nozaki, Kiyoshi. ''[ Kitsuné &mdash; Japan's Fox of Mystery, Romance, and Humor]''. Tokyo: The Hokuseidô Press. 1961.
* {{cite web |url= |title=Oinari |accessdate=2006-12-14 |format=html |work=A to Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist & Shinto Deities |last=Schumacher |first=Mark |year=1995 |month=September}}
* Smyers, Karen Ann. ''The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese [[inari (god)|Inari]] Worship''. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8248-2102-5
*Turnbull, Stephen. ''Nagashino 1575''. Osprey Publishing, Great Britain, 2000. ISBN 1-84176-250-4.
* Tyler, Royall (ed. and trans.) ''Japanese Tales''. New York: Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-75656-8
==External links==
{{Commons category}}
*[ The Kitsune Page]
*[ Foxtrot's Guide to Kitsune Lore]
*[ folklore]
*[ Kitsune, Kumiho, Huli Jing, Fox – Fox spirits in Asia, and Asian fox spirits in the West] An extensive bibliography of fox-spirit books.
*[ Portal of Transformation: Kitsune in Folklore and Mythology]
*[ IDEAS Undergraduate On-Line Journal]
{{Jmyth navbox long}}
[[Category:Fictional foxes]]
[[Category:Japanese folklore]]
[[Category:Japanese legendary creatures]]
[[Category:Shinto kami]]
[[Category:Legendary mammals]]
[[Category:Japanese words and phrases]]
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