In several Asian cultures, including China, Korea and Japan, the nine-tailed fox (Chinese: 九尾狐; pinyin: Jiǔwěihú; Japanese: 九尾狐, Kyūbi; Korean: 구미호, Gumiho) is a creature that appears in many stories.
The nine-tailed fox is a species of creature depicted in the Nanshan jing（山海經）, Haiwaidong jing（海外東經） and Dahuangdong jing（大荒東經） of Shan Hai Jing as having the voice of a human infant. It can be eaten by humans, and those who eat it will be protected from evil.
Later in history books like Book of Zhou and story collections like Extensive Records of the Taiping Era, the nine-tailed fox was depicted as a beast of fortune. Sent by the heavens, the nine-tailed fox was seen as a sign of fortune, peace and luck. In the Han dynasty, it is the protector of royal blood. However, it can also represent an omen of revolution when the Emperor is not good.
It was said to have possessed Mo Xi (Chinese: 妺喜), bewitched Jie of Xia, and caused the downfall of the Xia dynasty. This story, which appeared after the story of Daji, however, was very similar in nature to the story of Daji. Therefore, the story received criticisms stating the later writers only plagiarized earlier folklore, or that the telling of the stories was modified to discredit a different dynasty. The torture and creations of Mei Xi were very similar to those of the creations of Daji but were first used in Zhou dynasty with little historical evidence dating those back to Xia.
The nine-tailed fox appeared in the epic fantasy novel Fengshen Bang as a Yaojing, or spirit, controlled by the deity Nüwa and was ordered to bewitch King Zhou of Shang in the 11th century BC. The fox possessed the body of Daji and did her bidding. Daji was eventually killed by Jiang Ziya and the fox was condemned by Nüwa due to the fox's cruelty and disobeying its original order of bewitch King Zhou but do not harm others towards the end of Fengshen Bang.
Stories of Tamamo-no-Mae were written and collected in the Otogizōshi of the Muromachi period, and were also mentioned by Toriyama Sekien in Konjaku Hyakki Shūi. Tamamo-no-Mae was a courtesan under the Japanese Emperor Konoe. She was said to be a most beautiful and intelligent woman. She caused the Emperor to be extremely ill and was chased away by Abe no Yasuchika, who had been called to diagnose the cause of the Emperor's poor health. Abe no Yasuchika discovered the true nature of Tamamo-no-mae. A few years later, in the area of Nasu, the nine-tailed fox was seen killing and eating women and travelers. Emperor Konoe thus sent Kazusa-no-suke and Miura-no-suke along with 80,000 troops to kill the fox. In the plains of Nasu, it was finally killed and became a stone called the sesshoseki. The stone continually released poisonous gas, killing everything that touched it. The stone was said to have been destroyed in the Nanboku-chō period by Gennoh Shinshou, and the pieces flew away to different parts of Japan.
In the story told by Hokusai, formed in the Edo period, the nine-tail fox which possessed Daji was not killed, but instead fled to Magadha of Tianzhu (ancient India). There, it became the concubine of a prince, causing him to cut off the heads of 1000 men. It was then defeated again, and fled the country.
Around 780 BC, the same fox was said to have possessed Baosi (the concubine) and again chased away by human military forces.
The fox stayed quiet for some period. In AD 753, the fox took the form of a 16-year-old girl named Wakamo, who fooled Kibi Makibi, Abe no Nakamaro, and Jianzhen; and boarded the ship of the 10th Japanese missions to Tang China when it was about to return to Japan.
In 1113, Sakabe Yukitsuna (坂部行綱), a samurai with no family, picked up an abandoned baby girl Mizukume (藻女, girl of algae) which was actually the nine-tailed fox transformed, and raised her for 17 years. At the age of 18 she changed her name to Tamamo-no-Mae, entered the palace, and bewitched Emperor Konoe (see above).
In Korean culture the nine-tailed fox (or the kumiho) is a predominantly malevolent being. A fox that lives for one thousand years can become a kumiho, and it often takes the form of a beautiful young woman to seduce men in order to eat their flesh: usually the liver, although the heart is also a target at times. Some tales say that under certain circumstances a kumiho can become human, and the circumstances can vary from eating 1000 men's livers to refraining from killing and eating humans for 1000 days (depending on the tale). The kumiho originates from the ancient Chinese myths and therefore shares many similarities to the Chinese huli jing and the Japanese kitsune. However, the tales of the malicious, flesh-eating foxes are more common for the Korean counterpart, although there are a few tales telling of kindly kumiho.
In popular culture
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In the manga and anime franchise Naruto, the nine-tailed fox is one of nine tailed beasts which play an important role in the series' overall plot. The nine tailed fox is sealed inside the main character Naruto.
In Ga-rei, the "spirit devourer" Byakuei is a derivation from the Nine-Tailed Fox's power, housing a sesshouseki inside it. In the second story arc, Kagura, the protagonist who can summon Byakuei, uses the sesshouseki to gain the power to save Kensuke's life, but at the cost of becoming the core of the resurrected Nine-Tailed Fox.
In the Anime XXXholic, Watanukis 'Pipe fox', in its full form, is a nine tailed fox.
In South Korean romantic comedy series, My girlfriend is a gumiho, where the legendary fox is accidentally released from a painting.
In the game SCP - Containment Breach the MTF guards are referred to as Nine-Tailed fox.
In the anime Inu X Boku Secret Service, the series focuses on how several families have ancient ties to spiritual beings. The character Miketsukami transforms into a man with fox ears and nine tails. He is often referred to as the "nine-tailed fox".
In the game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies a nine tailed fox is featured as a legendary creature that according to a village's legend, sealed away a Yokai in the village's Forbidden Chamber. A wrestler called "The Amazing Nine Tails", who wears a cape made to look like 9 fox tails, is also featured.
In the game Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the keaton creature which appears after destroying the moving bushes is a fox with multiple, bushy tails.
- 『山海經』南山經, 又東三百里，曰青丘之山，其陽多玉，其陰多青䨼。有獸焉，其狀如狐而九尾，其音如嬰兒，能食人；食者不蠱。wikisource
- Nine-tailed fox stories at Aozora Bunko