Twelve Days of Kitsune
- The First Day of Kitsune – a folk tale
- The Second Day of Kitsune — Shift Your Shape with a Kitsune Costume
- The Third Day of Kitsune – Wordless Wednesday kitsune images
- The Fourth Day of Kitsune – the Brief History and Use of Chopsticks
- The Fifth Day of Kitsune — Dining with the Daimyou
- The Sixth Day of Kitsune — On Kimono & Japanese Clothing
- The Seventh Day of Kitsune – Where Are They Now? Part 1
- The Eighth Day of Kitsune – Where Are They Now? Part 2
- The Ninth Day of Kitsune — A Period Playlist
- The Tenth Day of Kitsune — Using Furoshiki to Wrap Gifts
- The Eleventh Day of Kitsune – the Kitsune Code of Conduct
- The Twelfth Day of Kitsune – Mizuhiki
For the First Day of Kitsune, I’d like to share one of the oldest and most common folk stories about a kitsune. It’s a tale of a fox wife, similar to Western stories of fairy brides, and it features many of the key points in the kitsune legend.
It’s also a story the village girl Murame hears in Kitsune-Mochi, which prompts her to do some deep thinking….
Kitsune, Come and Sleep
Once there was a man who married a beautiful woman. She had no family, but she was lovely of mien and manner, and he brought her to his home. In time, she bore him children, and they were very happy.
One day, a dog ran into their house, and it ran at the woman, barking. The woman was very frightened, and as the dog rushed at her, she transformed into a fox and fled.
The man was stunned to learn he had wed a shape-shifting fox — but he loved his wife. He followed her and said, “You are a fox, but you are my wife and the mother of my children. I love you. Please return with me.”
And so, every night, the fox returned and stayed with the man, and tended her children. And though he knew she was a fox, he loved her, and they were very happy.
This is a pleasant variation on the common theme of fox as trickster, or other stories in which the deceived man awakes to find himself homeless, penniless, or otherwise abused. This is my own writing of the tale, a conglomerate of many versions; you can find another version on a nice Asian fox folklore page here.
(You might also sometimes find an assertion that this story provides the etymology of the word kitsune, related to the words for “come,” “sleep,” and “always,” but I have not been able to determine how likely this is to be true.)
What do you think? Do you prefer a romantic fox tale, or a tale of fox trickery?
|Ran is Kurosawa’s epic and iconic retelling of King Lear in shogunate Japan. The scene in which a character uses the kitsune legend to rebuke one he cannot rebuke is one of my favorites.affiliate link|