Japanese Entry 6: Kyuubi no Kitsune

“Goodness! Have I been found out?” The Kyubi no Kitsune (九尾の狐) or nine-tailed fox are said to be some of the most powerful creatures in all Japanese mythology. These creatures actually have their origins in ancient China, whose legends eventually seeped into Korea and then Japan. The Japanese fox legend intrigued me the most however, as they gave the fox a “process” so to speak when it came to achieving its nine tails. Foxes in Japan, like many animals, attain more and more power with age and are known to be some of the most powerful. Foxes are known to be able to manipulate flames known as “fox fire”, possess humans and sometimes inanimate objects, and of course shapeshifting. In fact, foxes seem to be the most well known and popular shapeshifter in Japan. They have a particularly hard time hiding their ears and tails while in a human form. For every hundred years that a fox keeps living, it grows a tail and with it more power. A fox will continue this process until it reaches one thousand years of age and gains its ninth tail. Once a fox has nine tails their hair turns either white or golden and they gain near god-like power. They become almost omniscient and can see and notice everything thousands of miles around them. The most powerful nine-tailed fox known exist was Tamamo-no-Mae or Lady Duck weed. She lived during the Heian period and while hiding as a concubine for emperor Toba, almost succeeded in killing him and possibly taking control of Japan. Her actions were said to have caused real life events such as the Genpei Wars, the end of the Heian era and the rise of the first shoguns. This character I designed heavily references Tamamo no Mae, while not actually being said fox. I have always loved the aesthetic of a powerful god like fox character paired with the beautiful twelve-layer robe. If she is not the famous Tamamo no Mae, then who is she? Osakabe-hime of Himeji castle perhaps? Her identity is hidden, just as her plans are behind that coy smile.