Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kitsune - the foxes of Japan

Foxes, those mischievous shadow dwellers, play a special role in the mythology of Japan. Gaining tails as a source of power, when it acquires nine in total it is said to turn white, and at the age of 100, it becomes a polymorph, a shape shifter, often taking human form. They come in good (zenko) form as well as malicious (yako) and nearly a third of all temples and shrines in Japan will be home to a pair of red kerchief sporting foxes (kitsune, pronounced kit-su-neh), close confidents of the god Inari.

Legend has it that they have a habit of possessing people usually entering the body from under the fingernails, and in Japan there is a genuine medical condition known as kitsunetsuki where an individual believes they have been taken by the spirit of the fox. Peculiarly the symptoms include a craving for rice and red-bean paste, so somewhat difficult to differentiate from every single normal child in the country.

However, one manifestation of the spirit of the fox sometimes briefly arises the day after a typhoon when a light rain falls from a super-saturated blue sky. The phenomenon is known as Fox Tears and, although extremely rare, TenguLife has been lucky enough to experience this twice over the years. Looking up there was a clear sky, without a cloud in sight, just rain falling from nowhere. Something to enjoy while it lasts, for an empty sky really doesn't make an interesting photograph. 


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