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The Magical Folklore Behind Kitsune Tattoos

The Magical Folklore Behind Kitsune Tattoos

Tattoo Ideas2 min Read

These eight sly, spellbinding tattoos illustrate the mythos surrounding foxes in the birthplace of Irezumi.

Indomitable is our weekly series where we examine various motifs in traditional Japanese tattooing (Irezumi) through work by some of the most talented tattoo artists in the world.

A fearsome albino kitsune by Genko (IG—genkotattooer). #Genko #kitsune #neoJapanese

According to ancient accounts by Chinese writers like Guo Pu and stories handed down through Japan’s history, once a kitsune develops nine tails, it ascends to the heavens, transcending into the form of a celestial fox. While earthbound, however, they’re notorious for being tricksters, rascals that derive pleasure from mimicking humans to take advantage of the unexpected. Given the mystique surrounding these shifty figures, it’s no wonder that they made it all the way from woodblock prints of the Edo period to contemporary Irezumi. 

To see more Japanese tattoos of mythological creatures, make your way to these artists’ Instagrams. If you want a piece of Irezumi featuring one of these magical foxes, we recommend that you have one of them design a nine-tailed or kimono-wearing kitsune for you.


Ross Howerton
Written byRoss Howerton

BA in Literary Studies from The New School. MFA in Creative Writing from NMSU. Staff Writer for Tattoodo. I love art, books, movies, music, and video games. Hit me up on Twitter @Powertonium

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