Kitsune (Japanese狐; debate)? / I is the Japanese name of both the red fox (Vulpes vulpes ) and the arctic fox ( Alopex lagopus ). The red fox is in Japan two subspecies: Vulpes vulpes japonica (本土 狐, Hondo kitsune, dt main island fox ) lives on Honshu, the largest of the four main islands. On the northern island of Hokkaido subspecies Vulpes vulpes schrencki (北 狐, Kita kitsune, dt North Fuchs ) occurs. Both subspecies play a major role in Japanese mythology. Are considered sacred animals of the deity Inari, as confirmed in many representations, but especially the white foxes.

As a confidant of the deity Inari (even sometimes represented as Fuchs) apply Kitsune as a lucky charm, but they have in fairy tales and legends often other pages. Many stories describe their relationships with people often as initially very beneficial for the people, but even small perturbations of the relationship can turn the feeling and lead to catastrophic results, the situation in the total opposite.


It is not clear whether the kitsune myths are original part of Japanese culture or they were brought in from the outside. In Japan, they are probably known since the 5th century BC; also in Korea, China and India are similar myths known, but sometimes strongly differ in the attribution of the properties. In Chinese mythology, the nine-tailed fox is about the symbol of the Queen Mother of the West, during the Korean Kumiho is different from the Japanese Kitsune exclusively portrayed as evil. Other opinions by the fox myths could have spread from India to Japan. Nevertheless, the foxes in Japan are much more favorably than in Korea and China, few negative characteristics were taken. This could be because in the early Japanese society people and foxes lived together closely. Therefore, the kitsune myths also contain elements of the original Japanese culture. (see also: Kuzunoha )

Properties and nature

Numerous legends provide Kitsune as Hengeyōkai represent nature with the gift to take human form. In these legends a Kitsune often occurs as a very beautiful young woman and marries a man, often of real and heartfelt love out. But as soon as it notices that he is married to a vixen, it disappears, never to return, and leaves him with their children. Generally Kitsune have a variety of supernatural powers. You can also bring great evil but fertility. You can create fire with snout or tail tip. You can take virtually any shape with the a human woman is the most popular only. In addition, they can create illusions and allegedly even fly or take possession of people. It should be noted that the power of the Kitsune with age and the number of their tails (maximum nine ) increases.

As regards the nature of the Kitsune, so there are different statements in the sources. The foxes are in the service of Inari, are generally regarded as good and you would do well to keep them through prayers and offerings in a good mood. They are also capable of gratitude. In the fairy tale The grateful fox two fox parents sacrifice their child to help a man who needs for his recovery a fox liver. The history of the offender betrayal of Tanuki also shows another side of the Kitsune, there is a young fox revenge on a Tanuki, who conned his mother and let her kill by luring them directly in front of a hunting community.