The Kitsune (Japanese: 狐 OR きつね) are fox-type Yōkai from Japanese mythology. The most powerful ones have nine tails (called "Kyuubi"), and many different kinds of Kitsune are found throughout Japan.
DIET: carnivorous, but fond of fried tofu
Foxes, or kitsune, are found all across Japan, and are identical to wild foxes found elsewhere in the world, apart from their incredible magical powers. Their cute faces and small size make them particularly loved by most people.
Kitsune yokai, however, often have many tails. They can also be portrayed as bipedal. In human form, the Kitsune are known for being very attractive. There is one particularly famous kitsune known as Tamamo no Mae.
Kitsune are often portrayed as wild, occasionally wicked foxes, who delight in mischief, pranks, or evil. They are often seen as tricksters or sometimes even powerful sorcerers who use their abilities for evil. Even so, they are known to keep their promises, repay any debts, and remember friendships
A different type of Kitsune are the Inari. They are completely different fox-type creature that are known as spiritual messengers of Japanese gods and protectors of shrines. Legends tell of such celestial foxes providing wisdom or service to good and pious humans as they act as mediums between the celestial and human worlds. These foxes can often protect humans or places, providing good luck and warding evil spirits away. These heavenly foxes are often represented by statues in Shinto shrines.
Most tales of kitsune are about foxes punishing wicked priests, greedy merchants, and boastful drunkards. They do this by confusing their targets by creating phantom sounds and sights, stealing from them, or otherwise humiliating them publicly through trickery or even possession. Certain mental disorders have been attributed to possession by kitsune (known as kitsune-tsuki). Mysterious illusory fires and strange lights in the sky are said to be caused by their magic, and are known as kitsunebi, or “fox fire.”
Kitsune are extremely intelligent and very powerful shape-shifters. They frequently harass humans by transforming into giants or other fearsome monsters, sometimes just for pranks, and sometimes for other nefarious purposes. They are skilled enough to even transform into exact likenesses of individual people, often appearing in the guise of beautiful human women in order to play tricks young men. On more than one occasion this has resulted in the marriage with an unwitting human. Some kitsune even spend most of their lives in human form, adopting human names and customs, taking human jobs, and even raising families. When startled, or drunk, or careless, occasionally part of their magical disguise can fail, and the kitsune’s true nature may be revealed by a tail, a patch of fur, fangs, or some other vulpine feature.
- Shape-shifting - into humans or other creatures
- "Fox-Fire" - their magic takes on a fiery effect, and in some stories is much like actual fire.
- Possession/Mind Manipulation
In Popular Culture
As kitsune are one of the more well-known Japanese creatures, they are found in many forms of media. They are also popular in Japanese animated series.
- Kitsune can be found in the anime Yu Yu Hakusho
- A powerful Nine-tails is one of the sources of power for the main character in Naruto
- A Nine-tails Kitsune is one of the main boss monsters in Okami