Masaki Gitsune – 政木狐 9. January 2024

Masaki Gitsune is not a separate yokai species but the legend of a certain powerful, nine-tailed female kitsune who became famous for her long and intense life. The legend comes from the novel “Nansō satomi hakkenden” (“The Chronicles of the Eight Dogs”).

The legend

At a time when Kawagoi Moriyuki ruled over Shinobu no Oka Castle, a pregnant kitsune sought a safe haven beneath the castle. Moriyuki’s kind wife allowed her to stay there and give birth to her young. However, a lackey named Kaketa Wanazō captured and killed the new Kitsune mother’s companion. The ruler’s wife took pity on her and regularly brought her food until her young were so big and healthy that they left their nest. From then on, the kitsune began to plot her revenge on the lackey Wanazō.

The revenge

Wanazō had an affair with the nanny of Moriyuki’s young son Takatsugu. Her name was Masaki. The two lovers sneaked out of the castle one night, unaware that the kitsune, who had transformed into a bandit, was following them. In this form, she threatened Wanazō so that he and Masaki fled, slipping off the road into a river and drowning.

A new name

Despite her revenge, the kitsune felt bad because Takatsugu, the son of her benefactress, had lost his nanny. To repay his mother’s generosity and kindness, the kitsune took the form of Masaki and lived under that name from then on. For two years, Masaki, the kitsune, raised Takatsuga and took him to her heart. One day, Masaki fell asleep and lost control of part of her disguise. When the young Takatsugu saw this, he shouted in horror “Nanny’s face has turned into a dog!”. Maskai, aware that being raised on animal milk would disgrace him as a warrior if discovered, fled the castle with tears in her eyes, ensuring no one else would uncover her deception.

A new goal

Masaki returned to Ueno and reflected on her previous life. Despite the fact that she had lived for hundreds of years, she had not led a meritorious life. Her divine power was weak and she had killed people. From then on, she devoted her life to charity and helping others. So she transformed herself into an old woman and opened a tea store. She looked after travelers and offered them shelter from the heat and cold, gave refuge to orphans, persuaded lovers who were at loggerheads to refrain from their suicide pact, fed the hopelessly poor and saved the lives of 999 people in 20 years. She also reached her one thousandth birthday during this time. As a result, her tail split into 9 tails, her fur turned completely white and she became clairvoyant. As a result, she also sensed that Takatsugu was in great danger.

The ascension

She gathered all the kitsune in the area and they transformed into warriors and rushed to Takatsugu to protect him. When the danger was averted, Masaki revealed her true identity. She told him about their previous connection and enlightened him that she had earned the favor of the Celestial Emperor through her years of hard work and virtue. Her destiny was to transform into a Koryū (fox dragon). This honor is only bestowed upon those kitsune who are so powerful and virtuous that they cannot be distinguished from a dragon. Thus she would ascend to heaven and leave the earthly world behind her.
So Masaki returned to her teahouse and plunged into the Shinobazu pond. A moment later, the sky darkened, clouds gathered and it began to rain heavily. In the midst of the storm, a large white koryū emerged from the lake. Masaki ascended into the sky and with her, the teashop and all its contents were swept into the sky. After a while, the storm subsided, the sky cleared and Masaki disappeared into the clouds.

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