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Kitsune is a Japanese fox spirit, similar to the Korean Kumiho and Chinese Huli Jing. (Known as a Werefoxes)
Kitsune (ki.tsu.ne) is the Japanese word for Fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; kitsune usually refers to them in this context, and are akin to European faeries.
Stories depict them as intelligent beings possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—-as foxes in folklore often do—-other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messagers. This role has reinforced the Fox’s supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—-they may have as many as nine—-the older, wiser and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.
Kitsunetsuki (also written Kitsune-Tsuki) literally means the state of being possessed by a Fox. The victim is always a young woman, whom the Fox enters beneath her fingernails or through her breasts. In some cases, the victims’ facial expression are said to change in such a way that they resemble those of a fox.
Japanese tradition holds that fox possession can cause illiterate victims to temporarily gain the ability to read. Though foxes in folklore can possess a person of their own will, Kitsunetsuki Is often attributed to the malign intents of hereditarily fox employers, or Tsukimono-suji. Folklorist Lafcadio Hearn describes the condition in the first volume of his Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japen: Strange is the madness of those into whom demon foxes enter. Sometimes they run naked shouting through the streets. Sometimes they lie down and froth at the mouth, and yelp as a fox yelps. And on some part of the body of the possessed a moving lump appears under the skin, which seems to have a life of its own. Prick it with a needle, and it glides instantly to another place. By no grasp can it be so tightly compressed by a strong hand that it will not slip from under the fingers. Possessed folk are also said to speak and write languages of which they were totally ignorant prior to possession. They eat only what foxes are believed to like—-tofu aburagé, azukimeshi, etc—-and they eat a great deal, alleging that not they, but the possessing foxes, are hungry. He goes on to note that, once freed from possession, the victim will never again be able to eat tofu, azukimeshi, or other foods favored by foxes . Exorcism, often preformed at an Inari shrine, may induce a fox to leave its host. In the past, when such gentle measures failed or a priest was not available, victims of kitsunetsuki were beaten or badly burned in hopes of forcing the fox to leave. Entire families were ostracized by their communities after a member of the family was thought to be possessed. In Japen, kitsunetsuki was noted as a disease as early as the Heian period and remain a common diagnosis for the abnormal behavior displayed by the afflicted individuals. In the late 19th century, Dr. Shunichi Shimamura noted that physical diseases that caused fever were often considered kitsunetsuki. The belief has lost favor, but stories of fox possession still appear in the tabloid press and popular media. One notable occasion involved allegations that members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult had been possessed. In medicine, kitsunetsuki is an ethnic psychosis unique to Japanese culture. Those who suffer from the condition believe they are possessed by fox. Symptoms include cravings for rice or sweet red beans, listlessness, restlessness, and aversion to eye contact. Kitsunetsuki is similar to but distinct from clinical lycanthropy.