Kitsune - Foxes in Japanese Culture

Kurama, the nine-tailed fox, was a milestone in many people's childhood. Who never watched Naruto and always loved it when he went into “berserker” mode. In fact, speaking of Kurama, it is about Kitsune that we will discuss a little.

In this article, we will see details about foxes in Japan, their popularity, legends, folklore. Did you know that in Japan, there is even a village where you can see foxes in the snow? Yes, foxes are of great interest in Japan!

In Japan foxes are called flame kitsune (狐 - キツネ) and are known for their wit and intelligence. Traditional Japanese stories show them as intelligent beings and possessing paranormal abilities.

The Kitsune Tales

According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes can transform into human form. Who did not watch Natsume Yuujinchou, with our Nyanko-sensei. If you haven't watched it I believe it will be a good experience.

In some folk tales, they speak of foxes employing this ability to deceive others. In other stories, they are portrayed as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture
Foxes in the Fox Village

Foxes and humans lived together in ancient Japan, so this company gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a shinto kami, or spirit, and served as his messengers.

This role reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a Kitsune has the older, the wiser and more powerful it is. Remembering that they can have up to nine, this form that is the most seen in popular culture.

Because of their potential power and influence, some people make sacrifices to them for a deity. In contrast, foxes were often seen as “witch animals”. Especially during the superstitious Edo period, and they were considered elves who could not be trusted.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture
Foxes in the Fox Village

Types of Kitsune

And finally, some interesting information. They are not all the same, this may seem obvious. But anyway, let's identify some types that exist in the culture.

  • Bakemono-Kitsune: It is an evil and spectral fox, much like Reiko, Kiko and Koryo;
  • Genko: Black kitsune, usually seen as a good omen;
  • Kiko: Spirit of a fox;
  • Kitsune: General term for the word “fox”, can be portrayed as either good or bad;
  • Kitsune-Bi: Kitsunes with the power to invoke flames with the mouth and with its tail and transmutation;
  • Koryo: cursed fox;
  • Kuko: Air element foxes. Kukos are very bad, considered to be on the same level as the Tengu, Japanese Goblin;
  • Kyuubi: They are the kitsunes that reached 900 years old and have 9 tails, they gain the ability to be able to see and hear everything anywhere in the world. They also acquire infinite wisdom, omniscience;
  • Reiko: Ghost of a fox, it is not bad, but it is definitely perverse;
  • Shakko: Kitsune red, can be considered both good and bad;
  • Shouzaa: Spirit Seiryu, supervisor of the foxes;
  • Tenko: Kitsune's elite celestial kitsune, are those that have reached 1,000 years of age. Usually at that age kitsunes already have 9 tails and their coat changes color to silver or gold;
  • Yako / Yakan: yako (野狐? literally, evil foxes)

Nogitsune: Wild Kitsunes, is usually used to differentiate between Good and Bad Kitsunes. So they use the term "Kitsune" for Good Kitsunes. And they use "Nogitsune" for all those who deceive people and are considered bad. Nogitsunes are not evil, they just like to deceive people.

As we can see, there are several types, both good and bad. It is common in anime to see references to these animals. In anime such as Natsume Yuuchinchou, Pokemon, No Game No Life among others.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture
How Beautiful the Fox is

The Nine-Tailed Fox

A long time ago, at the beginning of things, when there was only the Celestial Kingdom, Creator Goddess Izanami [伊邪那美命] gave birth to twins, the Fire God Kagutsuchi [軻遇突智] and the Sun Goddess Amaterasu [天照].

The Creator Goddess Izanami was severely burned by the birth of the Fire Gods, which caused her definitive death. The born twins were rebellious, cruel and vain, and were driven by their fire energy to desire power at any cost.

Rejecting your Parents' Heavenly Kingdom, Izanagi and Izanami, Sun Goddess Amaterasu and Fire God Kagutsuchi created the Fire Demon Kingdom Oni No Seka, so that they could rule shamelessly and separate from heavenly government.

The Sun Goddess Amaterasu [天照] longed for beauty and power, and she was never happy with her appearance. So, she changed her shape at will. It took the form of the elegant and cunning fox, with its rays of sun forming its nine fluttering tails.

Thus she became the mother of all fallen Shapeshifters. She took on the name Kyukon [キュウコン], which is a combination of kyū [九] which means nine and kon [恨] which means curse, representing the nine tails or curses it would inflict on humanity.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture
Amaterasu the Goddess of the Sun

Kitsune Foxes Anime

Most anime that mix Japanese mythology, usually deal with something related to foxes, mainly the goddess Amaterasu as in the classic Naruto. What few are unaware of are anime focused on Japanese foxes.

You can see some of these anime in our articles Mythological Anime and Anime Animals. Of course, our main goal is to show some of these anime below:

Gugure Kokkuri - San

The story revolves around a girl named Kohina who is summoned by a Kokkuri-san, a low-level ghost in Japanese folklore. The Kokkuri-san she calls turns out to be a handsome young man with white hair. 

At first, he intended to simply haunt her, but soon he worries about his terrible habit of eating a cup of ramen for every meal. He later decides to haunt her to protect her. The anime features several mythological creatures from Japanese folklore, including foxes.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture

Kamisama Hajimemashita

Kamisama Hajimemashita is an anime romance shoujo and comedy that has a kitsune protagonist. Anime tells the story of Nanami, a girl who was evicted from her home because of her gambling father, who abandoned her and ran away with many debts. 

While wandering the streets, Nanami encounters a man who, learning about his history, offers his home to her to live in, which is actually an abandoned temple in which she becomes a deity of this place.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture

Inu x Boku

Shirakiin Ririchiyo, plagued by the flattery and mistreatment that her family's name has inflicted on her throughout her life, decides to move and be alone, until she learns to be confident enough to interact with people without being rude or hurt them .

Her parents only agree to this if she goes to live in the Maison de Ayakashi, commonly known as Casa Ayakashi, a luxurious condominium where only those who are selected can reside. But, the truth is that this house hides another secret.

Kitsune - foxes in Japanese culture

Other Fox Anime

There are other anime, films and OVAs with foxes that go unnoticed by the public. We'll list them all below, starting from the best to the worst. I didn't watch any anime on the list to play, their grades are also not high.

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
The Helpful Fox Senko-sanTV2019
Black FoxMovie2019
Cheonnyeon-yeowoo YeowoobiMovie2007
Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the GodsTV2013
Our Home's Fox DeityTV2008
Chironup no KitsuneMovie1987
Voice of FoxTV2018
Namake GitsuneMovie1941
Kitsune no Home Run OuMovie1949
Kitsune to CircusMovie1948
Mang Nu Yu HuliMovie1982
Fox Wood MonogatariOVA1991
Kitsune to BudouOVA1998
Kogitsune no OkurimonoOVA1993
Kyuubi no Kitsune to Tobimaru (Sesshouseki)Movie1968

Zao Kitsune Mura - Fox village in Japan

In Japan, we've seen things like Cats Island, Rabbits Island and the deer town. There is also the village of foxes. That's right, a village full of foxes walking on the snow in the mountains. 

The fox village is located near Shiroishi in Miyagi Prefecture, it is called Zao Fox Village or Zao Kitsune Mura. In the village, foxes roam freely and visitors can interact with them, feed and take many photos.

Foxes are popular creatures in Japanese folklore, there is even a Shrine dedicated to foxes, as they say that foxes are messengers of the Inari deity. Many visit this village just to see the beautiful foxes that roam the snow. 

Zao kitsune mura - fox village in japan

Beyond the foxes kawaii, there are other animals in the village like rabbits. Like any tourist place, here you will find restaurant and souvenir shops with many products related to foxes. If you go for a walk in Miyagi, be sure to visit the Zao Kitsune Mura.

There, there are six different types of foxes, who run and interact with visitors. When you pay the entrance, you receive a little food to give to the animals, however, you should not feed them with your hands because although they look adorable and harmless, foxes are wild.

When visiting fox village you will pay approximately 1000 yen to access. Be careful with animals, they can bite if you duck too close. Since foxes are territorial animals, watch out for belongings and backpacks, they can try to piss on them.

Zao kitsune mura - fox village in japan
  • You can see more details about the villa on its official website: Zao Kitsune Mura
  • Address: 〒 989-0733 Miyagi, Shiroishi, Fukuokayatsumiya, Kawarago − 11−3
  • Phone: +81 224-24-8812

To conclude the article, we will leave 2 beautiful videos for you to get to know this village full of foxes.

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