Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. There are two subspecies of foxes in Japan, named Red Fox and Hondo
Kitsune, and they are both related to mythological belief in Japanese folklore.
Kitsune are believed to possess great intelligence, long life, and magical powers. Foremost among these is the ability to shapeshifting into human form; a fox is said to learn to do this when it attains a certain age (usually a hundred years, though some tales say fifty).
Kitsune usually appears in the shape of a beautiful woman, a young girl, or an old man, but almost never an elderly woman.
The word kitsune is often translated as fox spirit ghosts, however this doesn’t mean that they are not living creatures, nor that they are not foxes.
The word spirit is used in its Eastern meaning, reflecting a state of knowledge or enlightenment. Any fox who lives sufficiently long, therefore, can be a fox spirit. There are two major types of kitsune; the myobu, or celestial fox, associated with Inari, who are presented as benevolent. and the nogitsune, or wild fox, who are often represented as malicious.
Kitsune are mostly noticed for is their tails as a fox may possess as many as nine of them. Generally, an older and more powerful fox will possess a greater number of tails, and some sources say that a fox will only grow additional tails after they have lived for a thousand years. After that period of time, the number increases based on age and wisdom (depending on the source). However, the foxes that appear in folk stories almost always possess one, five, or nine tails, not any other number.
When a kitsune gains its ninth tail, its fur becomes silver, white, or gold. These nine-tailed foxes gain the power of infinite vision. Similarly, in Korea a fox that lives a thousand years is said to turn into a kumiho (literally "nine-tail fox"), but the Korean fox is always depicted as evil, unlike the Japanese fox, which can be either benevolent or malevolent. Chinese folklore also contains fox spirits with many similarities to kitsune, including the possibility of nine tails. Looking for the fox's tail is one common method of attempting to discern the true nature of the kitsune, but some sources speak of other methods to reveal its true shape. Sometimes, a shapeshifted kitsune will cast the shadow of a fox rather than of a human; other stories say that a transformed kitsune's reflection will be that of a fox.
Supernatural powers commonly attributed to the kitsune include, in addition to shapeshifting, the ability to generate fire from their tails or to breathe fire, named 44kitsune-bi, literally foxfire, the power to appear in dreams, and the ability to create 'illusions' so elaborate as to be almost indistinguishable from reality.
Some tales go further still, speaking of kitsune with the ability to bend time and space, to drive people mad, or to take such nonhuman and fantastic shapes as a tree of incredible height or a second moon in the sky. Occasionally kitsune are ascribed a characteristic reminiscent of vampire or succubus Incubus (demon) these kitsune feed on the life or spirit of humans, generally through sexual contact.
Kitsune are often associated with the deity of rice known as Inari. Originally 'kitsune were Inari’s messengers, but the line between the two has become so confused that Inari is sometimes depicted as a fox.