Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

What Does the Japanese Fox Say – A Look at Foxes in Japanese Folklore and Popular Culture 2

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/15 Food, Traditional Culture, Travel & View point , , , ,

The Japanese fox (Vulpes vulpes), as mentioned in the first part of this feature, is a common topic in Japanese myths and legends. Continuing our discussion about the kitsune, we will feature one of its known ability: human possession.

Kitsune’s Human Possession

Kitsune is able to possess humans. The word, 狐憑き (kitsunetsuki), literally means the state of being possessed by the fox spirit. The kitsune usually possessed young women. The possessed victim is known to resemble or behave like a fox. When the victim is illiterate, it gains the ability to read. They also become knowledgeable. According to the book Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn,

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 — tofu, aburaage, azukimeshi, etc. — and they eat a great deal, alleging that not they, but the possessing foxes, are hungry.

Though the real fox is a carnivore, the kitsune is said to like tofu, aburaage, and azukimeshi. Tofu, which is also known as a bean curd, is made from soy milk. Aburaage is a fried tofu. It is often used to wrap a type of sushi, the inari-zushi which is named after the Japanese deity Inari. There is also a kind of udon noodle dish which is called the kitsune-udon. It has aburaage as one of the ingredients. Azukimeshi or the azuki bean is a type of beans which is usually red in color.

inarizushi

Aburaage, said to be one of the favorite food of the kitsune, is the main ingredient of Inarizushi. (Photo by Maria on Flickr)

kitsune udon

It is also in the type of udon called the kitsune udon. (Photo by Hiroyuki Takeda on Flickr)

Foxes possess a human for many reasons ranging from wanting revenge for some offense to getting one of its favorite foods. Other effects of being possessed by a kitsune includes pain, hysteria, running naked through the streets, collapsing, and frothing at the mouth. In other stories, the victims behave oddly: using foul language, acting like come kind of a millionaire throwing money around, barking, do violence, and spitting. They even go as far as barging into houses and annoy people, reveal other people’s secrets, and mess with people’s businesses.

Kitsunetsuki, the fox disease

Kitsunetsuki is noted as a disease in Heian period (794-1145 AD) until the 20th century. It remained a common diagnosis until then. In modern medicine kitsunetsuki is a culture-bound syndrome (only affecting a certain culture) unique to Japanese culture. It is similar to clinical lycanthropy. Those who suffer the disease believed they are possessed by a fox and craves for azukimeshi. They also suffer restlessness, listlessness and averts eye contact.

 Know some stories about the Kitsunetsuki? Share it with us in the comments!

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

Tokyo Tower - the virtual world -

Into the Virtual World: Visiting Real-World Anime and Video Game Locations

Ever been fascinated with the sometimes too-good-to-be-true places you see in Japanese video games and anime? Ever wondered if the places are true so you can visit them to feel what it’s like to be there? Well, how about I tell you that some of them do really exist? And most of them, yeah you […]

Read Article

shio-ramen

Shio Ramen; How to taste & enjoy it.

[Noodle Name] Shio (“salt”) Ramen [Noodle Type] Ramen [Noodle Variation] Soup Style [Noodle Flavor] Shio (Salt base)   [Feature of Shio Ramen] Shio Ramen  is one of the Japanese noodle soup dish. It made with plenty of salt based flavor and any combination of chicken, vegetables, fish, and seaweed. In many cases, the soup of Shio ramen does not boil. […]

Read Article

A couple enjoying the view at Ginshoji

Momijigari: Hunting for Autumn Colors

I have never been to any form of hunting trip till my friends and I head out to Kyoto this year to experience Momijigari which literally translates to maple leaf (momiji) hunting (gari). Just like Hanami (sakura viewing) in spring, Momijigari in autumn is well rooted in the Japanese culture and recently has also gained […]

Read Article

4881450065_fe7f37024d_z

Playing with Flowers in Cards: Hanafuda 2

As we learned in our first post about Hanafuda (花札), they are Japanese playing cards that are used to play a number of games. The name comes from two Japanese words hana (花) which means flowers and fuda (札) which can mean cards. Some call it “flower cards” in English. In this post, we will […]

Read Article

Shinai

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Rules

As the concept of kendo states that kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principle of the katana, there are kendo rules and regulations followed in a match (or in Japanese 試合, shiai). Kendo Match Rules A kendo match is herein defined as a contest between two contestants for a […]

Read Article

hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri – A Festival of Dolls

Today, March 3, is Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) in Japan. Though hina (雛) literally means a young bird or a chick, the day is also called Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day. On this day, families with girls wish their daughters a successful and happy life. Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display […]

Read Article

kanpai

The Nomikai – Bonding Through Drinking

A nomikai (飲み会) is a drinking party event particular to Japanese culture. It is a part of the culture of most places of employment. They are most often held in restaurants or izakaya (drinking place, bar), usually with everyone seated at one large table or occupying a separated section of the venue. The following two […]

Read Article

FukiyaHiro

The Fukiya Village in Okayama, Japan-Part 3-

What to see in Fukiya surrounding area (2) Keep walking down the street from “Bengara-kan” or “Sasaune”, then you’ll reach at a large house. On weekends and holdays during on-season, you can take a cyclic bus to/from the village. 5 min. by car from each location. A quick note: Nearby, there is a shrine called […]

Read Article

3122501695_48f068dc27_b

47 Ronin

Have you seen the movie titled 47 Ronin?  Would you believe me if I tell you that they were real?  Who are they and why are they so famous among Japanese people? What is a Ronin? A ronin refers to a lordless or masterless samurai.  A samurai becomes a ronin when they loss in battle […]

Read Article

Zentsuu-ji 03

Due South : Zentsuu-ji, Kagawa – The temple and around

Zentsuu-ji : The temple It’s relatively large, but I didn’t take many photos. I don’t remember why. If you are interested, visit the official website. There aren’t many photos in the English page, though. (Japanese page with map and link to the photos are here.) Quick history As I wrote in the previous post, the […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑