Fox is often portrayed as a crafty, cunning or wicked animal in both Eastern and Western cultures. Tales and legends associated with fox are mostly telling stories about the animal’s undesirable characteristics, such as flattering someone for gain, preying human life for longevity, or assuming female forms for pleasure. In contrast with the notorious images of this particular animal, the Japanese have the fox statues standing in front of the entrance of their shrines serving as a symbol of good fortune associated with the God of Wealth, Inari. This article examines the transformation of this deceitful animal from an evil wizard to a deified entity in Asian societies through historical and political enquiry. It focuses on the process of change and transformation whereby the animal was first used as a sign of good fortune, but later manipulated into a malicious being, and then found to be a guardian of evils in a foreign region. That is to say, novel things could be easily assimilated and manipulated into an existing culture to meet its social or political needs.
Min-Chia Young, Shu-Te University, Taiwan