The fox spirit, fox demon, or nine-tailed fox is a common motif in the mythology of East Asian countries. In Asian folklore, foxes are depicted as a familiar spirit possessed of magic powers. Similar to Western folklore, foxes are depicted as mischievous, usually tricking other people, with the ability to disguise as an attractive female human:
The fox spirit is an especially prolific shapeshifter, known variously as the húli jīng (fox spirit) in China, the kitsune (fox) in Japan, and the kumiho (nine-tailed fox) in Korea. Although the specifics of the tales vary, these fox spirits can usually shapeshift, often taking the form of beautiful young women who attempt to seduce men, whether for mere mischief or to consume their bodies or spirits.
However, there are other depictions of foxes as a mystical, sacred creature, that can either bring wonder or ruin. Nine-tailed foxes appear in Chinese folklore, literature, and mythology, in which, depending on the tale can be a good or a bad omen.
Nine-tailed foxes were transmitted from Chinese mythology to Korean and Japanese mythology.
- Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters (2014), p. 510
- Uther, Hans-Jörg (2006). "The Fox in World Literature: Reflections on a "Fictional Animal"". Asian Folklore Studies 65 (2): 133–160. JSTOR 30030396.
- Kang, Xiaofei (2006). The cult of the fox: Power, gender, and popular religion in late imperial and modern China. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 15–21. ISBN 0-231-13338-3.
- Wallen, Martin (2006). Fox. London: Reaktion Books. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9781861892973.