Kitsune Classifications

For those who might be interested I’ve collected some of the classifications of kitsune which studious and scholarly people use. Because I’m just a normal person and to not sound confusing I’ll be referring to everything on this web page simply as a Kitsune without further classification. After all, to the Japanese common person a fox was a fox.

Bakemono-Kitsune – a name for a sorcerer or evil fox usually as a Reiko, Kiko or Koryo i.e. some sort of non-physical fox

Genko– black fox, usually seen as a good omen

Kiko – spirit fox, see Reiko

Kitsune – fox, a general term for a fox regardless of the circumstance normally used for ‘good’ and ‘evil’ foxes alike

Koryo – haunting fox, see Reiko

Kuko – air fox, very bad kitsune, considered on the same level as Tengu (Japanese goblins)

Nogitsune – wild fox, used at one time to differ between good and bad foxes. At the time they used ‘kitsune’ to mean a good fox/messenger from Inari and nogitsune as all foxes who did mischief and tricked people. Not really considered evil, more like prankish.

Reiko – ghost fox, perhaps not on the ‘evil’ side but definitely a ‘bad’ fox.

Shakko – red fox, could be considered good or evil, the same as Kitsune really

Tenko – celestial fox, kitsune which have reached the age of 1,000 years, they are usually said to have 9 tails (and sometimes are said to have golden fur) but they are either considered very evil such as Tamamo-no-mae or benevolent and wise such as messengers to Inari

Yako/Yakan – fox, see Kitsune


*Bibliography for this section taken primarily from:

1 – Kitsune: Japans fox of mystery, romance and humor; Kiyoski Nozaki

2 – Goblin fox and badger and other witch animals of Japan; U.A. Casal

3 – The Fox and badger in Japanese folklore; Marinus Willem deVisser