East Asian culture has some incredibly exciting, engaging, and impressive legends of mystical beings. And one such intriguing creature is the nine-tailed fox demon, common in works of art and entertainment in China, Japan, and Korea. People who are first introduced to it from an anime or movie are often mesmerized by this mythical creature’s ability to transform into a human, manipulate people, and have impressive intelligence.
Join us as we take a closer look at this mythical entity. You’ll be impressed and feel cautious of this mythical creature, leaving you feeling eager to meet as well as keen to avoid it!
What are the Nine-Tailed Fox, Fox Spirit, and Fox Demon?
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As the name suggests, the nine-tailed fox is a fox that is usually reddish brown to white in color with blazing nine tails and red eyes.
If the Western world has the phoenix, Asia has the fox demon.
In East Asian mythology, the nine-tailed fox is arguably the most popular legendary creature. In Chinese literature, it is referred to as Jiu Wei Hu or Huli Jing and is best described as a seductress and a swindler who often deceives humans.
Although China’s version of the nine-tailed fox is rather devious, it also represents long life and prosperity and can grant good fortune to people who have shown it respect.
In Japan, the nine-tailed fox spirit is called kitsune. In their fables, the nine-tailed fox is a shapeshifting spirit that is overall good-natured but is also often too playful and sneaky. This mythical creature can not only transform into many different forms but also create illusions and even possess humans.
Overall, however, they are portrayed as a spirit that means well to humans. The most popular nine-tailed fox in Japanese anime is Kurama in the Naruto series, the ninth-tailed beast.
Gumiho is Korea’s version of the nine-tailed fox. And in this country, this spirit is considered spiteful. So, if and when wronged by people, it can prey upon that person and take revenge.
Although there was one Korean drama, My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox, about a gumiho where the nine-tailed fox showed the loneliness that this spirit has had to bear for centuries. It depicted them wanting to experience human connections and human emotions.
In all these countries, the nine-tailed fox demon represents power and wisdom as well as deception and revenge. But overall, they almost always reward a person in the end for a sincere act of kindness.
Nine-Tailed Fox in Folklore
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The nine-tailed fox gains its power from its tail. This means that the more tails this spirit has, the more powerful it is.
For this creature to complete all its nine tails, it needs 1000 years, with nine being the highest number of tails it can have. Once these creatures earn all their nine tails, they are hailed as one of the most powerful mythical creatures.
The Nine-Tailed Fox: Shape Shifters
The nine-tailed fox is known as one of the best mischief makers in Asian literature. It usually takes different forms and loves shapeshifting into beautiful women or young girls that can easily beguile other people, especially men.
Based on the folktales, a kitsune needs to learn how to shapeshift, and this training happens when the fox demon is 50 or 100 years old. And this requires preparation, and when fully able, the nine-tailed fox can seamlessly shift.
In the Chinese version, the nine-tailed fox demon usually transforms into women to seduce men.
Interestingly, these foxes in the human world are actually devoted wives and steal memories of their human partners. Any offspring from the relationship between the human and the nine-tailed fox demon would typically have physical or supernatural powers.
However, the nine-tailed fox demon is not limited to changing into beautiful women. It can also transform into young children and older men.
The Nine-Tailed Fox: The Power of Possession
The nine-tailed fox spirits can also possess a person, but they only use this power on people who have offended or wronged them. The person they possess will then talk and behave strangely, embarrassing themselves in public.
The possessed person may even eat the fox’s favorite meal, like bean rice and fried tofu. And one of the ways to get rid of the spirit possession is to get help from a good fox at the Inari Shrine. Once the spirit is expelled, the person won’t remember anything and will never eat the same food that they consumed when the nine-tailed fox possessed their body.
Another reason these creatures possess someone is to know the truth and the real intention of a person.
The Nine-Tailed Fox: Create Illusions
Nine-tailed foxes can also create illusions and make you believe that you are someone you are not or that you are in a world that you only dream of. These mythical creatures can make your imagination and greatest desires a reality, even if for a brief period.
Most of the time, the nine-tailed spirit creates an illusion to learn your deepest fears and weaknesses. Without any inhibition and restrictions, you can be anything your heart desires in a nine-tailed fox’s world.