Kitsune

(Image: “Kitsune”)

A famous Japanese legend, the Kitsune is a fox who can turn into a human, or vice versa, among other powers of illusion. It is almost impossible to tell a kitsune from a normal human unless they let some aspect of the fox show through, such as ears or a tail (Don 60-66). Kitsune grow in supernatural power as they age, growing a new tail every hundred years, and its fur changes color as it grows in wisdom and power. A kitsune is either zenko or yako, the zenko being completely benevolent and the yako enjoying tricking humans, or sometimes being outright destructive (Geller). Yako kitsune often play pranks on those who are too proud or who think that they can outwit the kitsune (Don 60-66).

Since the two types of kitsune are so different, they have different meanings in their culture. Since kitsune are at least partially inspired by the Chinese nine-tailed fox huli jing, they must have a similar meaning in Japanese culture as the hui jing do in Chinese culture. The beneficial zenko kitsune give mortals aid on important affairs and can give them wisdom (Geller), possibly as an explanation for incredibly wise mortals. The trickster yako kitsune are also an explanation for the unknown, the strange things that many people claim to have seen or done since kitsune can plant thoughts into a human’s head or control their body (Geller).

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