Humans have always lived in close proximity to Foxes. So it’s no surprise that wherever these clever creatures inhabit, you will find many ancient folklorish tales surrounding these beautiful cat-like canines. In Japan – where this animal features predominantly in its folklore – the fox is know as ‘Kitsune’, and is regarded to be a powerful supernatural creature with an array of remarkable magical traits. Originally they were mostly portrayed in a positive light, but arguably went on to acquire more negative traits which were imported from Chinese folklore as far back as 400AD.
One interesting characteristic of this mythical Japanese fox is its ability to grow more than one tail: with the oldest and most powerful having up to as many as 9 brushes! But they are only ready to start growing additional tails once they’ve reached the ripe old age of 100yrs, (which slightly goes against the grain in naturalistic terms, as the real traumatic life of a wild fox generally spans a mere 3 years, but they can reach the age of a domestic dog under the right conditions). Once a mythical kitsune finally does grow a 9th tail, they also acquire untold wisdom, gain the handy ability to hear and see all that is happening in the world, and its red coat turns to an enchanting shade of silver or gold.
Another interesting gift of a kitsune who’s reached the centurion mark, is its learnt ability to take the form of a human being. This can only occur if they follow the ritual of placing either a broad leaf, some reeds, or a skull over their head. Once they’ve managed this they are usually known to morph into very attractive females, (‘foxy lady’ indeed!), and throughout medieval Japan, any woman who was seen on their own at dusk or at night could have potentially been a kitsune.
If you are ever under the impression that a person is secretly a kitsune, you could test your suspicions by offering them some deep fried tofu, (true kitsunes can’t get enough of it!): you could also introduce them to a pet dog, and if they run a mile they are for sure a fox in disguise: or you could get them tipsy on saké, as careless kitsunes have difficulty hiding their tails when under the influence.
Cards and prints of this design and others are available at The DM Collection