(12/2/01 8:52:52 pm)
| just an interesting tidbit|
I discovered this on a Japanese animation site, and thought it was interesting:
What is the significance of fox masks in Japanese culture? I've seen them in Tekken, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho... Are there any retailers that sell the kitsune masks?
The Japanese fox mask is a product of two streams of Japanese tradition and culture- the mythic and the social. The "kitsune" is traditionally considered a magical beast capable of physical shape shifting and supernatural disguise. The "kyubi kitsune," or nine-tailed fox is said to be the oldest and most powerful. Examples of the kyubi kitsune appear in anime including Hyper Police and Supergal. The transforming fox and the transformation power of similar animals is a central conceit in Studio Ghibli's film Pom Poko. In fact, the legend of transforming foxes is such a culturally ingrained element of Japanese culture that the convention of answering the telephone with "moshi moshi" is actually based in the superstitious belief that foxes cannot say "moshi moshi" thus the person speaking is a real human and not a fox in disguise.
Japanese "noh" theater has also existed since at least the 14th century. In this highly formal theater of dance, drama, music and poetry, any character portrayed who is not a middle aged man living in the present will wear a mask. As foxes are such a significant element of Japanese folklore, it's only natural to expect that kitsune masks would be among the roughly 80 different styles of Noh masks used in traditional Noh theater.
As an element of traditional Japanese culture, "omen" (masks) are a common staple of festivals and are often glimpsed in anime as children's prizes or novelty items for sale during community festivals. True noh masks, though, are individual, hand crafted works of art made by master Japanese craftsmen who carve these wooden masks specifically for particular performers. Noh masks including the kitsune mask, are available through numerous retailers online that specialize in masks and Japanese collectables, but authentic pieces usually range in the $300 to $400 range.
(12/3/01 7:20:55 pm)
| Re: just an interesting tidbit|
And for a literary reference, check out Larissa Lai's novel _When Fox is a Thousand,_ in part about a fox woman who reaches the magical age of one thousand year old, and can therefore shapeshift at will into either woman or fox.
(12/6/01 12:11:41 pm)
| you just made my day!|
I've been drowning in finals and work, so have been reduced to lurker mode. However, just couldn't leave this one alone! I'm working on a thesis -- one day to be a book -- on the very topic of kitsune. I knew some of the information you presented, but a good bit was new, which is always a thrill.
Please, _please_ could you direct me to that website? I'd really love to get in touch with whoever wrote that, if possible.
As for the Lai novel, it's really quite good, as are many of the other books and storied I've unearthed. If this topic interests you, let me know -- my bibliography is hovering around 100 items now, so I have plenty to share. :-)
(12/6/01 12:31:01 pm)
Kij Johnson's Fox Woman is a brilliant evocation of the kitsune legend in a romantic, erotic historifcal/magical novel. Don't miss it.
(12/6/01 8:07:17 pm)
| Re: you just made my day!|
Um, well, hate to admit it, but--it was
There's an "Ask John" column and he answers stuff about Japanese culture. I thought it was cool because I always wondered why they answered the phone "moshi moshi."
Anyway, I am interested in kitsune myself, so if you could recommend a few titles, that'd be cool. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.