Created By: ccoa on May 28, 2010 Last Edited By: ccoa on May 29, 2010

Nine-Tailed Fox Spirits

Name Space:
Page Type:
This may or may not become it's own trope, go on a page about foxes in mythology in general, or be soft split on the current Kitsune page, depending on how things are decided in the forum thread and how many examples accrue here.

Since many Asian mythologies have the same roots, it is not surprising to find similarities between them. One of these is the fox spirit - a shapeshifting trickster whose natural form is that of a fox with up to nine tails.


By far the best known outside of its country of origin, the kitsune is the Japanese version of the myth. Kitsune were neutral tricksters in general, but could also be malicious or benevolent. See the main page for a full description and examples.


Gumiho are the Korean version of the legend, and are always sadistic and malicious in nature. It was believed that a fox that lived 1000 years would become a gumiho. Gumihos can change their form, although they always retain some fox-like aspect such as paws, a tail, ears, eyes, or their voice. They were believed to eat either human hearts or human livers to survive, and some myths state that eating enough of these will allow the gumiho to become human. In other myths, a gumiho who abstains from killing and eating meat for 1000 days would lose its evil nature and become a human woman.

Huli Jing

The Chinese huli jing can be either a good or evil spirit. Like kitsune and gumiho, huli jings are shapeshifters, and often assume the forms of beautiful young women. Indeed, the Chinese believed that they were entirely made up of feminine energy (yin or jing) and needed to gather masculine energy (yang) to survive.

Evil huli jing would often seduce or posses important men in order to trick them or consume their life force (yang). They were also known to seduce or mislead the innocent away from Dharma. Good huli jing are often featured in love stories with human men.

Examples of Gumiho

  • There are several Palette Swapped fox girls in the Korean MMORPG La Tale. One variety is even called Gumihos. They were so popular the company later added them as a pet.
    • Similarly, they are an enemy in MapleStory, although they appear as multi-tailed foxes rather than girls with multiple tails and ears.
  • The manga Shin Gumiho retells the myth of the Gumiho who wanted to become human.
  • Forbidden Love was a Korean television series with a race of nine-tailed fox-people, one of whom falls in love with a human.
  • The titular character of Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox
  • The titular character of Laon
  • From the SCP Foundation: SCP-953

Examples of Huli Jing

  • In Imperial Lady by Andre Norton, Silver Snow's maid Willow turns out to be a fox spirit in disguise.
  • Xiaomu in Namco Capcom and Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier is a 765 Chinese year old werefox, while her nemesis Saya is a Japanese werefox.
  • Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio contains 86 tails of Chinese fox spirits, most of whom assumed female form to deceive humans.
Community Feedback Replies: 4
  • May 25, 2010
    • The sequels to the Judge Dee series has a Huli Jing show up (sort of): a priest explains that he was always sort of shunned because his father had been tricked into marrying a fox-woman, who turned back into a fox some time after he (the priest) was born. The judge (and everyone else) stare at him in silence for a while, because it's blindingly obvious that the wife ran off with another man, the father passing it off as the fox spirit going back to the wild.
      • And in the original series, a girl lives in a temple infested by foxes, and is believed to be possessed by one.
  • May 26, 2010
    A Sub Trope of Cunning Like A Fox.

    And we have a picture from Pokemon that would work as the page picture.
  • May 26, 2010
    It's related to Cunning Like A Fox, but it's not a subtrope. Cunning Like A Fox is about Animal Stereotypes. This is more akin to Hellhound or The Fair Folk - a mythological creature that appears in fiction.
  • May 29, 2010
    Why not to lump variants into existing Kitsune?