Named as Ren | 蓮 (ren) meaning "lotus" | Born in 24/07/1530 (488 years old) near one of the lotus ponds at lake Kasumigaura, Japan | Physically looks like a 25-year-old | Male | Kitsune, more precisely a tenko | Prefers hearts over livers | Lives with his marked one in Fushimi, Kyoto
CharacteristicsKitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers. They are a type of yōkai. The word kitsune is sometimes translated as 'fox spirit', which is actually a broader folkloric category. This does not mean that kitsune are ghosts, nor that they are fundamentally different from regular foxes. Because the word spirit is used to reflect a state of knowledge or enlightenment, all long-lived foxes were believed to gain supernatural abilities.
There are two common classifications of kitsune:
The zenko (善狐, literally 'good foxes') are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with Inari; they are sometimes simply called Inari foxes in English.
On the other hand, the yako (野狐, literally 'field foxes', also called nogitsune) tend to be mischievous or even malicious.
Local traditions add further types. For example, a ninko is an invisible fox spirit that human beings can only perceive when it possesses them.
Kitsune have as many as nine tails. Generally, a greater number of tails indicates an older and more powerful Kitsune; in fact, some folktales say that a fox will only grow additional tails after it has lived 100 years. (In the wild, the typical lifespan of a real fox is one to three years, although individuals may live up to ten years in captivity.) One, five, seven, and nine tails are the most common numbers in folktales. These kyūbi no kitsune (九尾の狐, 'nine-tailed foxes') gain the abilities to see and hear anything happening anywhere in the world. Other tales credit them with infinite wisdom (omniscience). After reaching 1,000 years of age and gaining its ninth tail, a kitsune turns a white or golden color, becoming a tenko (天狐 'heavenly/celestial fox'), the most powerful form of the kitsune, and then ascends to the heavens.
ShapeshiftingA kitsune may take on human form, an ability learned when it reaches a certain age – usually 10 to 20 years, although some tales say 50. As a common prerequisite for the transformation, the fox must place reeds, a leaf, or a skull over its head. Common forms assumed by kitsune include beautiful women, young girls, elderly men, and less often young boys. These shapes are not limited by the fox's own age or gender, and a kitsune can duplicate the appearance of a specific person. Kitsune are particularly renowned for impersonating beautiful women. Common belief in medieval Japan was that any woman encountered alone, especially at dusk or night, could be a kitsune. Kitsune-gao ('fox-faced') refers to human females who have a narrow face with close-set eyes, thin eyebrows, and high cheekbones. Traditionally, this facial structure is considered attractive, and some tales ascribe it to foxes in human form. Variants on the theme have the kitsune retain other foxlike traits, such as a coating of fine hair, a fox-shaped shadow, or a reflection that shows its true form.
In some stories, kitsune retain – and have difficulty hiding – their tails when they take human form; looking for the tail, perhaps when the fox gets drunk or careless, is a common method of discerning the creature's true nature. A particularly devout individual may even be able to see through a fox's disguise merely by perceiving them. Kitsune can also be exposed while in human form by their fear and hatred of dogs, and some become so rattled by their presence that they revert to the form of a fox and flee.
One folktale illustrating these imperfections in the kitsune's human shape concerns Koan, a historical person later credited with legendary wisdom and magical powers of divination. According to the story, he was staying at the home of one of his devotees when he scalded his foot entering a bath because the water had been drawn too hot. Then, "in his pain, he ran out of the bathroom naked. When the people of the household saw him, they were astonished to see that Koan had fur covering much of his body, along with a fox's tail. Then Koan transformed in front of them, becoming an elderly fox and running away."
Other supernatural abilities commonly attributed to kitsune include possession, generating fire or lightning, willful manifestation in the dreams of others, flight, invisibility, and the creation of illusions so elaborate as to be almost indistinguishable from reality. Some tales speak of kitsune with even greater powers, able to bend time and space, drive people mad, or take fantastic shapes such as an incredibly tall tree or a second moon in the sky. Other kitsune have characteristics reminiscent of vampires or succubi, and feed on the life or spirit of human beings, generally through sexual contact.
FC: Kim Taehyung (V) | The puppet master: Lumene