Of females and foxes

by Dr. Ulrich Pauly

Geht doch! Ein Männerheft (Ausgabe I/2012)


The fox has always been a symbol for the fertility of the fields among farmers in Japan. It is revered as a messenger of the rice field deity Inari. It is said to be invested with supernatural powers. He can assume another shape, for example, as a fire or light apparition - but mostly as a pretty young woman. Countless stories have been told in which a kind-hearted man helps a troubled fox. A little later the fox turns into a beautiful woman and visits the man. They fall in love, marry and have children. But one day, the happy fox mother slips up and the children discover her fox's tail. She is terribly ashamed and leaves the family, leaving the man behind in despair. Fox bridal tales are the origin of the Japanese term for foxes: "Kitsune" - from "ki" from "come", "tsu" "always" and "ne" "sleep [with me]".

Until after the Second World War, newspapers reported cases in which men were fooled by foxes at night. The fox belief can be found in the repertoire of the Kabuki and Nō theaters as well as in mangas and Animes. To take human form, foxes must live to be 50 or 100 years old. But it is only when they are a thousand years old and have nine tails and snow-white fur, that they use their powers almost exclusively for the good of humans.



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