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kitsune mythology help
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setos_puppy wrote in little_details
Hi guys, I'm looking for some help for anything and everything related to kitsune mythology aside from the basic obvious facts (nine tailed foxes, possession, shapeshifting, tricksters). I have a character who is currently possessed by a kitsune that is pretty apathetic toward humanity, even a bit dismissive, and I want to make it as accurate as possible. What sorts of things would they do? Do they have a certain view of morality/law? Even foods, drinks, and especially binding and exorcism agents are really appreciated!

I've gone through the tags here, checked "kitsune" in both English and Japanese (all three alphabets), "kitsune mythology", "japanese mythology", "kitsune possession".



One thing I recall about kitsune mythology is that they had a tendency to shapeshift into beautiful people who tricked unsuspecting men or women into marrying them. I *might* be mistaking it with selkie mythology, but I'm also pretty sure those kitsune have kids with the human spouse, in those stories. Exactly how this ended depended on the story, but it usually ended, at the very best, with the kitsune being found out and leaving the human family.

Exactly how moral kitsune are depends on the story, I believe. I've heard tales where they're harmless pranksters and I've heard stories where they're really nasty. I guess that could be interpreted to mean that kitsune, like humans, have a variety of personalities and definitions of what's moral. ^^;

I typed "japanese folklore foxes" into Google books and found a book that looks useful: The Fox's Craft in Japanese Religion and Culture: Signification, Transformation and Duplicity by Michael Bathgate (Taylor & Francis, 2004). There are also a number of related books listed below.

Besides books like this that scholars have written, you should also be reading the folktales themselves. That's the only way you're going to get "accurate" information about kitsune behavior.

(Edited to fix terrible html.)

Edited at 2014-02-16 04:51 pm (UTC)

I've definitely already looked at the mythology since it was most prevelent when I searched, but I'll definitely check out that book

Cool. I've been trying to remember the details of a supernatural-fox story I read a long time ago; maybe you've seen this one? A man starts telling his friends about how each night in his dreams, he gets transported into a wonderful fairyland, where he stays in a palace and a princess is his wife. His friends naturally don't believe him, but then the man disappears for real. A priest is called in, and he digs up the floorboards of the man's home. There is the missing guy, grubbing around in the middle of a den of foxes! They had been tricking him into thinking he was visiting a palace when he was in his own crawlspace all along; and I can't remember if he had children with his "princess," but if he did, they were fox cubs.

I KNOW THAT ONE. =D well, actually, it's not just one story. when you're reading about kitsune illusions, the tale that pops up most often is a variant on "then he thought centuries passed and he lived as a god and fathered many slightly weird babies but when the priest/police/his family/the dog found him not two days after his disappearance, he was under the crawl space of his house in a fox den, terribly confused and quite embarrassed." (or in some more disturbing versions, more time has passed and he is dead. it's a trait foxes share with faeries: they give you something disgusting and make you think it's beautiful, such as garbage disguised as food, and laugh at you on the sidelines.)

because when a kitsune latches onto a house, as they are wont to do, they'll build an illusion usually underneath the floor. perhaps because mortal foxes also live beneath floorboards and other dark hiding places.

Lafcadio Hearn collected Japanese folktales, including some on kitsune. You can find a copy of Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan on Google Books.

I assume you've seen this page? It has some information and sources on kitsune in Japanese (and Chinese and Korean).

Edited at 2014-02-16 05:48 pm (UTC)

That page has been my best friend

First, do you want the modern, popular myths or old folklore? There are some surprising differences.

There were multiple types of kitsune in the folklore. One type were all descended from a white, mated pair who are still revered as servants of Inari, the Shinto harvest deity. Those are the only lawful kitsune. Entrances to Inari's temple gates are flanked by statues of these two foxes.

Some kitsune links:

(Great; most of my bookmarked links on the topic are either dead or in use for something else.)

Interestingly, in China the magical foxes (all foxes are magical, actually; it just takes time to grow into their power and most don't live that long) are more amorous than mischievous.

Then there's my guy:

More furry images - including another with a kitsune - at:

Interesting to know that Chinese foxes were more amorous. [don't you hate that link death?]

thank you for the links

There's a lot of variety in the Chinese foxes. The Cult of the Fox: Power, Gender, and Popular Religion in Late Imperial and Modern China by Xiaofei Kang is a book FILLED with variations on what the fox can be.

there are types of kitsune, with regional varients. the most commonly known kitsune are thought of as messengers of the god/dess (the gender of the deity in question is depicted as male and female and occasionally neither) inari, who is important enough to japanese agricultural prosperity that her foxes (white, gold, or yellow in color, and thought of as by and large benevolent) are deities in their own right. so offerings include things like aburage, kitsune udon (an udon dish with certain ingredients--you can find recipes), inarizushi (fried tofu filled with rice--the sushi is named after inari), and sweet red adzuki beans and things containing these beans, as well as sake. they're not malevolent, exactly, but they are tricksters, and there have been cases where they sufficiently annoyed emperors or lords enough that pleas were made to inari to punish her foxes. ...and then you have the field foxes. the non-holy foxes. those guys are usually depicted as red in color, and tend to be deliberately cruel. the 9-tailed fox is gold or white, and has infinite knowledge and power. it may be several hundred years old or several thousand years old.

kitsune aren't human, and human morality does not apply to them. things like "mine, not yours" don't mean anything to a kitsune with regards to humans; they are frequently thieves. they take things from people and hide them simply to watch how funny it is. the laws they adhere to are their own laws, and slightly hedonistic--if it's funny, they'll do it. if they want to, they'll do it. in some varients of the kitsune myth, such as in korea and china, they're evil and devour human livers while wreaking havoc on human lives. in all these versions they are highly sexual beings and, like succubi, are occasionally thought to steal life energy via sex. (google "tamamo-no-mae and emperor konoe.") kitsune enjoy mortal things like sex and food and drink.

possession is done by their own free will, or by a fox-witch they are under the employment of: a witch who has employed a fox (by offering it food or other things it desires). so they'll possess a person or shapeshift as a person for fun or for love or because they desire to bear human children; for personal gain; because their employer made them for whatever evil reason (there's no GOOD reason someone would ask a fox to possess a person); or for revenge, which is not frowned upon by kitsune at all. kitsune hold loyalty to a pretty high standard. if you make a promise to a kitsune you better be prepared to keep it, and it is a bad idea to try and play a trick on such a trickster. there's one version of the myth that tells of a man who stole a kitsune's fox ball, an item which is sometimes thought to contain the kitsune's power. the kitsune bargained with him, stating that if he gave back the ball, he would not only not, um, torture and eat him, but be his loyal servant forever...and so the kitsune was, once the ball was returned. kitsune promise things to the people they make deals with, or fall in love with, and these promises are kept to the letter (including promises of wealth--the problem is simply that when a kitsune gives you the money he promised you, the next morning it turns out to be leaves and twigs). likewise, a human that betrays a kitsune has committed the worst possible crime, and vicious punishment will be dealt.

[part 1 of 2...]

[part 2 of 2...]

kitsune possession is cruel. the person possessed by a fox will exhibit the things associated with western possession: seizures, talking to oneself (and arguing), frothing at the mouth, bizarre depictions of sexuality in public, ability to speak and write unknown languages, an unceasing hunger for foods associated with kitsune, fever, distortion of the facial features--a woman possessed by a fox takes on the facial appearance of a fox. the shadow of the victim may have tails, and the victim may become terrified of dogs (kitsune do not like dogs). trickery will be committed. so will public drunkenness, probably. exorcism is done by a priest at an inari shrine, with the aid of inari. it effectively involves raising one's eyebrow at the fox and going, "are you serious? you're possessing a person? get out. this is ridiculous. INARI LOOK AT THIS SHENANIGAN. fox, i swear, if you leave this body, you can have a whole lot of delicious food." (...if a priest cannot be found some idiot may try to burn the fox out of the person, which...results in a dead body and a furious fox.)

THIS is a very valuable read.




This is so helpful you have no idea.

*flails like kermit*

not a problem. =D one thing that might also be of use to you is the ability of the religiously devout to see through a kitsune's possession: to a priest/ess or particularly faithful person, the fox inside the victim will be more visible than the victim itself. the same goes for shapeshifting (to a priest, a shapeshifted fox is just a fox), and the kitsune illusion. kitsune can cast very powerful illusions, powerful enough that a man might waste away for decades while, to him, only a second seems to pass. these illusions can be of any nature and can only be broken or seen through by a priest.

Uggh this is all so helpful.

I'm writing two fanfic where a person is possessed by a nogitsune, so they're definitely going to be displaying the harsher side of things. The first is them reveling in it; enjoying the power, the control of light and shadow, the food... The other is the aftermath of being exorcised. so this has been soo helpful

goddamn teen wolf

HAHA YES I KNEW YOU WERE WRITING TEEN WOLF. *cackle* i haven't actually seen this season of it, so i don't know how old or powerful or dangerous the nogitsune is, or how it ended up possessing anyone, but i'm gonna guess it's a crazy mofo who wants blood. (the main villain in all my stories is the answer to the question, "what would happen if a 13k-year-old kitsune lost its mind?")

post-exorcism, i've heard, the possessed person can never eat the foods they craved again. and i'm IMAGINING that it takes some physical toll as well, especially if the kitsune drove their body to exhaustion or drained their life energy.

IT'S SO GOOD THIS SEASON OH MY GOD. (3b that is, not 3a). We don't know much about it aside from who its possessing [seemingly] and that it was do to helping parents via ritual. [look at this:]

do you have a tumblr or something I can bug you on?

*fans self* sweet merciful jesus DYLAN O'BRIEN CAN YOU NOT. yeah, like, i stopped watching halfway thru season 2, but now people are talking about horrible things happening to stiles and i know i have to start watching again but i almost can't bring myself to because STILES, MY BABY.

i'm technically ohaugustine on tumblr but i pretty much quit until further notice. i sorta hang out on lj and twitter (peterpandied) only now.


damn, well excuse me while I follow you on both, and kind of awkwardly ask for your gchat or skype name so we can talk because I'm weird

keepondreamingboy for gchat! marika.kailaya for skype! more commonly found as ohdarlingiknow on aim which i'm pretty sure i am THE LAST PERSON ALIVE TO STILL USE. I'M PRETTY COMFORTABLE WITH THIS WEIRDNESS BECAUSE YOU SEEM REALLY COOL. can i add you here or is that weird

please add me back, you're not the only one I swear. gchat: yaoi.kicks, skype; writing.bookworm, and aim is kouinunoseto

Bookmarking the crap out of that link. :)

I have an idea for a book involving a kitsune, so I love you and want to marry you for explaining the myth in such easy, broken down terms. It really helps me wade through everything to come up with ideas that can be applied to my story. ♥ ♥ ♥

Not a fox, but a raccoon claps for you!

you're welcome! there are so many variations on the theme of fox spirit--even the origin of the NAME of the kitsune is under CONSTANT DEBATE--that sifting through the stories seems impossible. the lore changes depending on how the person telling the story interprets it in the first place. on the other hand, that makes it easy to mold into fiction.

Your description of the exorcism is the best thing I've read all day. :)

BWAH. thanks. XD as far as i know that's honestly how it goes, it's like shooing a cat off your front porch. "YOU AREN'T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE. YEAH, YOU'RE A BIG SCARY PREDATOR. OOH, BIG CLAWS. NOW MOVE." only...a bit more politely...



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