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Foxes, known as kitsunes, are a huge aspect of Japanese folklore. In these stories, kitsunes are highly intelligent beings that possess supernatural powers. These powers increase as they become wise with age and they also have the ability to shapeshift into human form. Although in many examples of Western folklore, foxes represent trickery and mischief, kitsunes are often shown as guardians, friends and companions to humans. They're also believed to be messengers of Inari, the god and protector of rice cultivation.

They gained this positive reputation from living in close proximity to humans during ancient Japanese times and to this day, some continue to make sacrifices to them as deities. Fox mythology is found throughout East Asia at large, as there is the legend of the nine-tailed fox appears prominently in Chinese literature. The fox gains more tails as it becomes wiser and depending on the story, can represent both a good and bad omen. These stories spread to both Korea and Japan, leading to many depictions of nine-tailed kitsunes in Japanese art.

Kitsunes are prominently depicted in tattooing, with many representing them in their fox spirit form and others depicting the kitsune masks worn at Shinto festivals throughout Japan (and around the world). In honor of the incredible history of kitsune folklore, take a peek at 50 impressive tattoos from talented artists around the world. Then let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section on social media.