the online database of Japanese folkore



Translation: none; this is his name
Alternate names: Kyōzōbō, hikyaku gitsune (“postman fox”)

Appearance: Keizōbō is a famous kitsune from Tottori Prefecture. He served Lord Ikeda Mitsunaka of Tottori Castle during the 17th century. He is most famous for his skill at transforming into a young samurai and running messages from Tottori Castle to Edo. He could make the journey in a record-breaking three days. He was beloved by his lord for his talent and dedicated service.

Keizōbō is the husband of the famous kitsune Otonjorō and one of the famous Inaba Five Kitsune.

Legends: One day Keizōbō was sent by his lord to Edo with an important message. On the way, he approached a small village where he encountered a rich and delicious aroma wafting up from the side of the road. Looking over, he saw a farmer placing fried mice into traps. Keizōbō transformed himself to a young samurai and asked the farmer what he was doing. The farmer replied he was setting traps for a fox who had been destroying his fields. Keizōbō continued on his way.

Keizōbō delivered his message in Edo. On his way back to Tottori, he happened to pass through the same village as he did before. Once again the smell of delicious friend mice hit his nose. Even though Keizōbō knew it was a trap, the smell was too enticing to resist. He moved as quickly as he could to snatch the fried mouse of the trap. But poor Keizōbō was not fast enough. The trap caught him, and he died.

Lord Ikeda heard that Keizōbō had died, he was filled with sadness. He had a shrine built on the side of the mountain near his castle. Keizōbō’s spirit was enshrined there as a guardian deity. His Nakazaka Inari Shrine still stands in Tottori City today.

Alphabetical list of yōkai