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:

byodoin temple

Kyoto Quest : Byodoin Temple (平等院) in Uji

Overview of Byodoin(平等院) Temple Byodoin Temple was built by the Regent, Fujiwara no Yorimichi, by rebuilding the villa of Michinaga, his father in 1052. In 1053, the following year, Amidado(Amitabha Hall) was built, where Amitabha Tathagata is enshrined, and is now called Hoo-do(Phoenix Hall). It is an elegant and ornate structure, in the image of […]

Read Article

kana cards

Kotoba Asobi: Goroawase

Goroawase (語呂合わせ) is a form of Japanese wordplay whereby homophonous words are associated with a given series of letters, numbers or symbols, in order to associate a new meaning with that series. The new words can be used to express a superstition about certain letters or numbers. More commonly, however, goroawase is used as a […]

Read Article

Cascading water

Kyoto: Strolling around Kamogawa River and iconic Gion

After enjoying our morning hunt for momiji leaves (we enjoyed it so much that we did not realize that we have walked for more than two hours), we decided to take a short break before we continue our hunting trip. I know Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy Japanese cuisine but we […]

Read Article

sumo heya

Sumo: More Than Just a Martial Art – Professional Sumo

As noted in our previous posts about sumo, it is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto deities. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June […]

Read Article

kobu-maki (kelp rolls with fish in it)

Osechi: Traditional Japanese New Year’s Food – Meaning

In my previous post about osechi, I mentioned that each dish has its own meaning and significance. You can think of juubako of osechi as a box full of one’s desires or wishes for himself or for his families for the New Year. What dishes and how they are arranged may differ in every region or household. Below […]

Read Article

karuta

Karuta: Traditional Japanese Playing Cards – Variations

Mastering karuta requires a combination of quick reflexes and memorization. And for the Japanese language learner, karuta also offers the perfect blend of procrastination and productivity, a way to work and play at same time. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text […]

Read Article

8559644532_cdb6269c53_z

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Sword Masters

Kendo has a very long and rich history of development in Japan. Some of the legendary sword masters of ancient Japan left writings to explain their philosophy and methods. Even though they are not really practitioners of the modern kendo, nevertheless, their philosophies and methods became a part of it. The following two tabs change […]

Read Article

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

Pretzel package

Oyatsu: Japanese snacks between meals (Collaboration version)

Oyatsu (3) In my previous “oyatsu” post, I introduced a soft type candy product with the package of “Shingeki no Kyojin” (Attack on Titan). There are many collaboration products like that in Japan.   [Disney] The most popular character is probably the “Mickey Mouse”. He is used not only on the packages of snacks, but […]

Read Article

Go

Let’s Play “Go”! – History of the Board Game Go

The game of ‘Go’ has its origin in China 4,000 years ago. It is more than 1,300 years since ‘Go’ was introduced to Japan. During these centuries, the ancient Chinese form of ‘Go’ has been modified and improved by the Japanese. ‘Go’ as it is played today is an indoor game which has no further […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑