Kitsune, our letter K, is possibly one of the most well known of all Japan's many many beasts and spirits. The name Kitsune literally means "Fox" and its reputation for trickery and cunning is the stuff of legends. Folklore speaks of these foxes as shape-shifters who possess all sorts of strong magic. Typically Kitsune are separated into different types based on magic and behavior. The most common being the Zenko (literally good foxes) and the Yako (literally field foxes). The Zenko, also known as Inari foxes, are spiritual creatures associated with Shinto shrines and rice harvests. Yako foxes on the other hand are mischievous monsters who use their powers to play pranks and cause trouble where they can.
In Kitsune age and magic are closely related, the older the fox the stronger the magic. At around 100 years of age they gain the ability to take human form. The older and more powerful a Kitsune becomes the more tails they will grow, after the ninth tail its fur will turn gold or white.
Once able to take human form Kitsune's will often pose as beautiful women or elderly men. They are not limited however, and can duplicate the shape of anyone they encounter. The only way to spot a Kitsune in human form is a misplaced tail, fox-like facial features or a fox-shaped shadow.
Sometimes a more dangerous demon Kitsune will possess a victim (usually a woman), causing them to go completely mad.
One famous legend tells of the marriage of two Foxes which happens when the sun shines on a rainy day. The Sunshower or Kitsune no Yomeiri is the only condition in which the Kitsune will hold their sacred ceremony. A sunshower is considered a sign of good things to come...but be warned. A fox will always seek revenge any any human who catches a glimpse of the wedding procession.
Links: There is so much info on Kitsune's I barely scratched the surface.
The Obakemono project
Below I've embedded "Sunshine Through the Rain" a short from the movie Dreams by Akira Kurosawa for your Kitsune viewing pleasure.
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