Mythology and Folklore

Kitsune: (Wikipedia) – The word kitsune in Japanese means fox, and foxes are important part of Japanese folklore. When the word kitsune is used in English it’s referring to the mythological foxes from Japan.

It’s said that these spirits are intelligent and posses magic, both things grow with the age of the foxes. Means older the kitsune is more powerful, wise and intelligent it is (more tales the fox has means they older, the most powerful of them are nine talled foxes also known as Kyuubi – that’s the big form Mugetsu has). Aside this they take human forms and most of the folkloric stories show them as tricksters at one side and on the other side as faithful guardians, lovers, wives, friends, ect.

First thing you must know is that those spirit animals are servants and messangers for Shinto-god Inari.

There are lot of explanations from where the world kitsune arrives, but the one that I like the most is defenetly the one that is tied to a love story.

“Ono, an inhabitant of Mino (says an ancient Japanese legend of A.D. 545), spent the seasons longing for his ideal of female beauty. He met her one evening on a vast moor and married her. Simultaneously with the birth of their son, Ono's dog was delivered of a pup which as it grew up became more and more hostile to the lady of the moors. She begged her husband to kill it, but he refused. At last one day the dog attacked her so furiously that she lost courage, resumed vulpine shape, leaped over a fence and fled.

"You may be a fox," Ono called after her, "but you are the mother of my son and I love you. Come back when you please; you will always be welcome."
So every evening she stole back and slept in his arms.”

Here it leads us to: kitsu-ne =come and sleep | ki-tusne = always comes.

Kudakitsune: (from Zusetsu Nihon Youkai Taikan ("Enciclopedia degli spiriti giapponesi") di Shigeru Mizuki) – The name is Kuda or kudakitsune (kudagitsune) – kuda is for the tube, they live in, so the translation is “fox of the pipe”. The Kanji used to write the word are the identical as those of another spirit that bears the same name. The name derives from the story of a man, who tamed an animal with similar characteristics to the kuda, taking it with him locked in a takezutsu (a tube made of bamboo).

The kuda appears a lot in folklore tales of the Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka and Aichi zones, but Matsuura Seizan says that kuda was brought from Osaka to Edo in May of the fifth year of Bunsei era (1818-1829).

It seems that the remarkable specimen of creature had one shaku and two or three sun (around 37 cm) long body, while the tail was around nine sun and half (around 29 cm). There are no other tales of having a kuda this big. In general, it was said that it was something similar to a marmot, then a koneko (kitten) or an itachi (weasel). The man that managed to lock it up in the pipe and then tame it it’s named kanzukai (the shunter of the tube) . It’s said that the man was Shugendo apprentice (traning and verification way) and that he also studied at the Kimpusenji tample at Nara, where he learned this peculiar technique. It’s about a type of traveling show, during which the man uttered a kind of magic spell while holding a bamboo tube in his hand, the man asked a question and then the answer was heared from the insides of the tube. Mostly it was about happy events foretold. It wasn’t harmfull to anyone.

In the Shinshu (or Shimano-no-kuni, old name of the Nagano prefecture) area, kuda is tied to the spiritual possession. The story goes by the fact that it was a fox that cursed the thing, and if there was a wedding, it would stuck to the bride. In a blink the object would multiplied seventy-four times, making the house nice and rich, on the price of physical exhaustion of the bride, because she neglected the kuda.

In the area is also known as kudasho and it seems that some people saw a cat capture it. It had black fur and they say it looked like a marmot.

Kitsunebi or Fox Fire: (Nihon Youkai Taizen) – There is a story regarding the fire of the foxes in the Japanese folkolore. It's said there was a man from a village of Kawame (near the city of Morioka, of the region Iwate) near to Munato. One day while he went to the river fishin, he noticed that from the distance there was a kitsunebi (foxfire) coming closer. Hidding in the woods, he waited till the fox fire came in fron of him and then he used one of his nets to capture it. The fox run away with an agonizing howl, leaving it's fire in the net, which came out to be a small fur, which gave off an intense glow.

The men decided then to take it home with him and keep it in the net to keep it safe and better. During the following nights a messanger arrived to his door, telling him that his lord wanted to see him. Because it was a dark night, the man took the kitsunebi with him and it was like he was walking during the day, because of the bright foxfire. After that the messanger asked the man if he would give him the light and the man gave it to him, without thinking lot about it. The messnger kept poking it and admiring it, and then at one point that fire got transformed in to a fox and run away so fast that it seemed flying.

Sometimes Kitsunebi apear in groups, and then they are called Kitsune no Yomeri.