Excerpt From The Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan/Inari: Its Origin, Development, and Nature
By: Rev. D.C. Buchanan, M. A., Ph.D.
December 1935
Pages 34 through 36

Fox Names And Grades

A study of Japanese literary and historical records will reveal a great variety of fox names and rank. Under many different terms the fox was venerated and held in awe. The Following are some of them:

Kitsune(狐) The Ordinary name for "fox".
Byakko(百狐) "White Fox"; the tutelary diety of Inari.
Genko(黒狐) "Black Fox", whose appearance like the "White Fox" is a good omen.
Shakko(赤狐) "Red Fox"; also a beast of good omen.
Kwanko "Pipe Fox", also pronounced "Kuda-gitsune; a small animal which can be put in a pipe which is held in the hand, and thus used by "Yamabushi" in sorcery.
Kuko(空狐) "Air Fox"; said to be the same as "Tengu" (goblin) and exceedingly malevolent.
Jinko(人狐) "Man Fox". Foxes sometimes assume the shape of men; and men at times have been known to take the form of a fox.
Reiko "Supernatural Fox"; a powerful demon, exceedingly clever at bewitching men.
Tenko(天狐) "Celestial Fox"; who flies like a bird and may be a "Tengu".
Koryo "Haunting Fox"; who delights in bewitching men.
Yakan "Field Shield"; the most harmful and haunting of all foxes.
Kiko Myojin "The Venerable Fox Brilliant God"; Messenger of Inari, and a fox of the highest grade.
Choko "Fox Chief", also pronounced "Osa-gitsune"; King of all foxes in Japan, and descendant of "Kiko Myojin".
Kyubi-no-kitsune(九尾の狐) "Nine-tailed Fox"; a beast of good omen.
Osaki-gitsune "Osaki-fox"; a small beast, the same as "Kwanko" and used in sorcery by "Yamabushi".
Myobu "Court Lady"; a fox worshipped on Mt. Inari.
Tome "Old Woman"; a fox worshipped on Mt. Inari.
Toka "Rice Carrying", also read "Inari"; the original diety of the mountain, a fox.
Kotai "Fox Regiment"; groups of foxes who sometimes appear as regiments of soldiers.
Yako(野狐) "Field Fox"; the lowest grade of fox.
Yorikata "Assistants"; a grade higher than "Field Fox".
Shuryo "Chief"; highest rank of fox.

The above multiplicity of names and ranks is indicative of the strong hold fox worship has had and still has upon the people. If properly propitiated the foxes of Mt. Inari will, it is believed, bring wealth and happiness to the worshipper. The common man must exercise great care not to offend any of the powerful fox dieties, else he will dearly pay for it.

Literary Works