The Fox Spirit: The Japanese Trickster?
Wilbur, John H., III
Washington and Lee University -- Capstone in East Asian Studies
Folk literature, Japanese
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John H. Wilbur, III (Jack) is a member of the Class of 2016 of Washington and Lee University.Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]The trickster spirit plays a role in cultures that span the globe. These spirits have a variety of natures: impish, malevolent, or even good-?spirited (according to their ways). In tales tricksters serve as a warning to adhere to social customs. In doing so they can reveal intrinsic elements of a culture that they appear in. Trickster spirits in Japan tend to take the form of a shape?shifting fox spirit. I argue that in Japanese folklore the kitsune (fox) is a trickster spirit. In examining two fox tales and a related fragment I look to categorize the fox as a trickster being. I will begin with an overview of the “trickster” motif in the context of other folklore traditions. In more detail, I will examine the similarities and differences between those traditions and the two Japanese tales. Do all trickster spirits share the same traits regardless of culture or are certain behaviors more common in different areas of the world? [From Introduction]