•About this yokai•
...To properly summarize the Fox's role in Japanese Culture, Religion, Shinto, Mythology, Art and Folklore is a daunting task, one could fill several books about Kitsune lore alone! Its an expansive topic & which one cannot possibly cover it adaquately all at once, still i will do my best to present an "in a nutshell" topic to the best of my knowledge/ability. Kitsune are commonly said to have a ranked hiarchy....
...For now lets focus on...
Kiko (JP: 気狐, Spirit Foxes), Myobu (JP: 命婦), Zenko (JP: 善狐, Good Foxes.) & Tenko (JP: 天狐 Heavenly foxes)
As Kitsune grow older, they become more powerful, magical & Wise growing another tail every 100 years or so: After about 500 years, their fur turns a pure glowing white (said to represent transparency/Invisibility.) The good ones become enlightened and shed their mortal bodies, ascending to the rank of Kiko (気狐, spirit foxes.) the best of whom exclusively serve Inari Okami: The Kami & Patron goddess of rice, agriculture and industry. - under the honorary rank of Messenger/Guardian: Myobu (命婦) These are often the foxes with red bibs seen near Torii gates & other sacred spaces. - They act as Inari's eyes & ears and are less likely to perform evil deeds and are generally good-natured towards humans. - One exmple of a Kiko is Kuzunoha, the mother of the famous Onmyoji, Abe no Seimei.
At 1000 years: a good-natured Zenko is said to attain the highest rank of Tenko: their powers include the ability to fly, turn invisible & create powerful illusions warping both time and space. The oldest Tenko are even omniscient: able to see & hear all. - Their powers are close to that of a god, they can change their shape to appear however they like, typically chosing to appearing as a goddess. – Fortunately, at this age divine kitsune have become wise enough to stop pulling malicious cruel pranks altogether.
Hoshi-no-tama: (JP: ほしのたま) "Star balls" - Older kitsune are often depicted with White jewels that glow golden with the brilliant colors of Kitsunebi - These jewels are said to contain the kitsunes spirit, powers and memories [In the Tenkos case, it’s often said to be their link to Inari herself.] it’s what is most precious to them, so, if you can get your hands on one you might be able to force it into favour for its return. - When it’s not being used, it can be found in the kitsune's mouth, under their paw or balanced on their tail! - It’s very rare to see a High ranked kitsune depicted without the star ball somewhere nearby! - hoshi-no-tama are also often featured as the crest on Inari temples & shrines
There are well over 2000 Torii gates & shrines dedicated to Inari across japan, in-fact 9/10 Torii gates you see will in fact be dedicated to her. usually donated by local businesses in hopes of gaining favour.
[Local Culture and Traditions often add further ranks, lore & other abilities, kitsunes powers can also occasionally be associated with specific elements too. – Again this summary just scratches the surface of the topic: as said above, it's difficult to summarize it all in one place. It's always a good idea to do your own research too!!]
• See also: Nogitsune, Kitsune masks, Yokai Zine #2.
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my Night parade of 100 Demons - Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!!
This design is inspired by the white porcelain Myobu Kitsune statues [see the last slide] which you can commonly find displayed near shrines in japan. 💖🦊 (Albeit my design has a few more tails, implying that it's a higher-ranked Tenko, rather than a Myobu.) [see last slide.]