Fox Ancestory Series

Kitsune – the 9 tailed mythical fox from ye old Japan



As part of my second series of full bodied taxidermy pieces, I made this 9 tailed Kitsune fox early this year.

Kitsune’s are mythological creatures from Japanese folklore, fox spirits with multiple tails who can shape-shift into other creatures, including humans. The stories are varied as to whether they are deceptive or helpful, depending on how you treat them. The more tails they have, the older and wiser they are, 9 being the upper limit. They shape-shift by tying a skull onto their heads – the skull of whatever creature they want to shape-shift into. They possess a small white ball called hoshi no tama, which holds their magical power, and if a human manages to attain a kitsune’s hoshi no tama, they can control them. Many kitsunes shape-shift into geishas by day and seduce and marry men. Then at night they sneak out to be foxy in the wild. Ladies who have foxy/feline features are rumoured to be Kitsunes, and superstitious folk look for tails peeking out from underneath their kimonos.

The particular fable I based this piece on, is one where a young man happens upon a hurt fox in the woods, who is trapped by a fallen tree. As he is kind, he lifts the tree and saves the fox, and in order to repay him, she shape-shifts into a beautiful geisha, and devises a plan. “Take me to the nearest town to their most exquisite brothel. Sell me to the owner for no less than 3000 pennies.” This seemed like much too much money, and the young man thought it would never work, though obligingly he did as the Kitsune asked. When there, she uses her magic and beauty to charm the brothel owner and he happily pays a mint for her, thinking his new geisha would be his prized possession and would bring him much business once word got around of her presence. After the deal was done, the young man, amazed at his new fortune though reluctant to leave her there, goes back to the woods to continue his journey. That night the Kitsune shape-shifts back into fox form and escapes the brothel to find the young man in the woods, where she turns back into geisha form, and they marry and make a house deep in the woods and live happily ever after with their new found fortune.

It was tons of fun researching and making this piece. I have an affinity with Japan and it just made me want to go back there and explore the countryside some more. My Kitsune’s clothing is sourced from Japan from recycled kimonos and a vintage obi – (kimono belt). The hoshi no tama (spirit ball) is from a museum collection from Hervey Bay, Australia, it’s an antique Japanese Ojime bead made from mother of pearl, used on the Inro – in other words, a special bead that closes a little pouch that served as a pocket, tied to the kimono’s obi belt as kimono’s don’t have pockets. A very important accessory worn in the olden days, holding ones money and treasures and medicines. It was such a great find, it seems like that one piece was meant to be for this Kitsune, and it somehow ended up here in Australia for me to find. You can see it dangling from one of Kitsune’s tails, as that’s where they hide them.


Hoshi no tama. Antique Japanese Ojime bead made of Mother of Pearl.

Hope you enjoyed the read and the mini history/folk tale lesson!

I’ll be posting more photos of Kitsune in the near future, on my social media sites.

Have a great day! ♥⇔♥