Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

What Does the Japanese Fox Say – A Look at Foxes in Japanese Folklore and Popular Culture

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/15 Animal, Pop Culture & OTAKU, Traditional Culture , ,

Popular manga titles Naruto, YuYu Hakusho, and Inuyasha has one thing in common – they have characters depicting a fox or in Japanese, kitsune (キツネ). The fox (esp. the species Vulpes vulpes) is a common topic in Japanese myths and legends. They are intelligent beings and possess magical abilities. The most common of these abilities is the ability to transform or disguise as humans. While sometimes portrayed as tricksters, tricking other human and animals, some stories speak of them as faithful guardians.

Inari, the Fox Diety

It is believed that in ancient Japan, foxes lived close together with humans. It gave rise to different stories and legends. Foxes have become particularly associated with the Japanese deity Inari. The foxes served as Inari’s messengers. Inari is regarded as the deity of foxes, of fertility, rice, tea and sake (Japanese rice wine), of agriculture and industry, and of general prosperity and worldly success. There are numerous shrines and temples dedicated to Inari across Japan with its head Shrine Fushimi Inari-taisha located in Fushimi, Kyoto. An Inari shrine can be easily distinguished because of numerous fox statues at the gate and inside the premises.

DSCN1647

DSCN1642

kitsune 3

Some of the fox statues found inside the Fushimi Inari-taisha.

Kitsune Abilities and Powers According Japanese Folklore

As portrayed in several Japanese folklore, foxes have superior intelligence and magical abilities. Because of this, though they are not ghosts, foxes (kitsune) are considered as yōkai and the word kitsune is sometimes translated as fox spirit. There are two common classifications of the Japanese fox: zenko (善狐 lit. good fox) and yako or nogitsune (野狐lit. field fox). The zenko are the ones associated with Inari while the yako tends to be malevolent foxes. Another tradition classifies kitsune into what supernatural ability they possess: kaze (wind), chikyu (Earth), kasai (fire) kawa (river), tengoku, (heaven), kaminari (thunder), yama (mountain), kukan (void), seishin (spirit), jikan (time), mori (forest), umi (ocean), and ongaku (music). Ever heard of Eevee in the popular franchise Pokemon? Some people believed it is based on the kitsune. It can evolve into different types (fire, water, etc.) depending on the circumstances.

Kitsune are also illustrated as having many tails. The greater the tails, the more powerful and intelligent the kitsune is. The nine-tailed fox is the most powerful and gain the ability to see and hear everything happening anywhere in the world. In popular culture, Kurama, the nine-tailed fox, in the manga Naruto is the most powerful among the tailed-beasts.

kurama

Kurama, the nine-tailed fox, is believed to be the most powerful among the tailed beasts in the popular manga Naruto. (Image by Melissa_1995 on Flickr)

Kitsune’s Human Transformation

A kitsune can also gain the ability to disguised as a human through ages. As a common prerequisite to the transformation, the fox must place reeds, a broad leaf, or a skull above its head. Kin’emon in the hit manga One Piece has its power based on this fox’s ability: disguise himself or anyone by putting a stone or leaf on the head.

092648

A kitsune preparing to transform by placing a leaf above its head. (Image from AC-Illust)

More stories and legends about kitsune will be featured in the next post.

References:

1. Kitsune. Wikipedia.

2. Kitsune: The Real and Fantastic Japanese Fox. Tofugu.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

Go

Let’s Play “Go”! – The Go Board Game in Modern Times and Popular Culture

The Go board game became popular not only in Asia but also in other countries. It also spawned many work of art and fictions. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text – […]

Read Article

boxing

2D Adrenaline Rush: Sports Anime 2

Japan is a sporty country. Sporty in the sense that almost known sports have followers in the country. Continuing our quest to put into list some sports that are made into animes are baseball and boxing. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through […]

Read Article

Kanpai

Gaijin Chronicles : Kangeikai and Edamame

Japanese companies usually hold 歓迎会(kangeikai or welcome party) to welcome new employees and 送別会( Soubetsukai or farewell party) for those leaving. In some cases, the welcome and farewell parties are combined into one — 歓送迎会(kansougeikai). These are usually dinner parties held in nice restaurants.The party is usually started with speeches by the company president or any […]

Read Article

20141011_123524

Omihachiman and the man named William Merrell Vories – Part 2

Where is Omihachiman? Omihachiman is located on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa – the largest lake in Japan. According to wikipedia Omihachiman means “Hachiman in Omi”. Since the Edo Period Omihachiman has been known to be a merchants town and is now widely known to be the birthplace of ‘Omi-shonin’ – the merchants from […]

Read Article

6288861432_ee290789b6_m

Kawasaki Halloween 2014

October’s about to end in few days and that means Halloween parties are held in different parts of the world. Spooky stories and scary costumes are what Halloween is synonymous to nowadays. Halloween in Japan, though not celebrated for tradition, is loved by many Japanese people. Last October 26, the biggest Halloween event in Kanto […]

Read Article

School in Takahashi

Takahashi in Okayama, Japan -Part 2-

The Bicchuu Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi city(2) When I reached the top, I found a tea server. “Bicchuu Uji-cha”, a local tea was served and it was free. “Thank god, I can cool my throat”, I thought, but surprisingly it was steaming hot! I didn’t want to waste my tea, so I waited until it […]

Read Article

10933010884_bef367e053_z

Kendo, The Way of the Sword – History

Kendo, or the “way of the sword,” is similar to forms of fencing seen in other lands. Two contestants wearing armor to protect the face, chest, and arms confront each other with bamboo swords called shinai. Today, it is widely practiced within Japan and many other nations across the world. The following two tabs change […]

Read Article

tenugui

Tenugui: More than Just a Hand Towel

A tenugui (手拭い) in its simplest definition is a traditional Japanese hand towel made of cotton. It is usually about 35 by 90 centimeters in size. It is typically plain woven and though there are also plain designs, it has usually repeating patterns printed/dyed on its surface. But a tenugui is not just a plain […]

Read Article

A-InBox_2

Yu-Gi-Oh! – 15th anniversary – Kingdom of the dueler –

I’m showing you the latest card before introducing “Kingdom of the dueler edition”. V Jump November 2014 promotional card Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon Card descriptions 1 DARK Dragon-Type monster + 1 Beast-Type monster Must be Fusion Summoned, or Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by Tributing the above cards you control (You do not use “Polymerization”), and cannot be […]

Read Article

FukiyaNisi

The Fukiya Village in Okayama, Japan – Part 4 –

What to see in Fukiya surrounding area (3) [The Nishie residence] This house is located on the opposite side of the Hirokane residence and there is no bus service to/from the village centre in the off season, and even in the high season, a cyclic bus goes there only once a day. However, a bus […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑