A kitsune (狐) is a mythical fox from Japanese folklore. The word "kitsune" refers to foxes in general in the Japanese language while in English the word refers to just the folkloric variation. The name Kyūbi-no-kitsune (九尾の妖狐) is the Japanese name for the folkloric kitsunes. They are often depicted as intelligent beings and having magical abilities that can increase with their age and wisdom. One of their most famous abilites is to assume a human appearance. While they are often portrayed as tricksters, other stories depict them as guardians, friends, and lovers.
Due to Ancient Japanese people living within close proximity of foxes, this gave birth to many folklore and legends. Inari, a Shinto kami (spirit), is closely associated with kitsunes and kitsunes often act as her messengers. This has reinforced their supernatural significance. The maximum number of tails a kitsune can have is nine and the number of tails they possess determines how older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Many treated kitsunes as deities and even made offerings to them.
In popular culture
- In the two 1993 TV series Adventures Of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog, a two-tailed fox named Tails (based on off the video game character) appears as a friend of Sonic
- The 1993 Japanese direct-to-video series Akuemon is based off of Japanese folklore of the fox-wife.
- In the anime Naruto there is a nine-tailed fox called Kurama.
- In Teen Wolf, kitsunes are spirits that live inside of a person. (e.g. Kira Yukimura)
- In the Sonic Hedgehog: The Movie ("Sonic OVA"), Sonic's two-tailed sidekick Tails appears.
- In the fantasy manga Natsume's Book of Friends, Natsume meets a young kitsune on a walk one day.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, starting with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic is often accompanied by his sidekick Miles "Tails" Prower. Tails bares two tails that he uses like a helicopter in order to fly around.
- A three-tailed fox species known as Keatons appear in The Legend of Zelda series, most notably The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. They challenge Link with a quiz if he finds one with a Keaton Mask on. Thuggish ones appear in The Minish Cap.
- Ninetales, a Generation I Pokémon, is based off of a nine-tailed kitsune.
- In Ōkami, a major boss named Ninetails is a nine-tailed kitsune.
- In some Naruto games you can have a nine-tailed demon cloak.
- In the MMORPG Game Adventure Quest Worlds, One of the Chaos Lords is a evil nine-tailed humanoid fox named Kitsune. Also, the setting is a Japanese-style island