the online database of Japanese folklore

Otohime gitsune


Translation: princess fox

Appearance: Otohime gitsune is the name of a kitsune—and a goddess—who lived in what is now the village of Kyūhirota in Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture.

Legends: Long ago, there was a goddess named Otohime. She lived in a mountain called Hatahikiyama. She was a clairvoyant, and was only known to the villagers by her disembodied voice which could be heard in the woods—nobody had ever seen her true form. Whenever the villagers would call out to her from the base of her mountain, she would answer their questions.

When a farmer lost one of his tools, he approached the foot of Hatahikiyama and asked Otohime for help. She replied from out the woods that he had left it next to his shed. When some food was stolen from the village, Otohime instructed the villagers the name and the location of the thief. Thanks to Otohime’s knowledge, eventually there were no wicked people left in the village.

One autumn, a farmer’s vegetable garden was torn up by wild animals. The farmer feared that he would run out of food during the winter. So he set some traps deep in the woods to catch the wild beasts that were destroying his crops.

Not long after that, the farmer heard a voice deep in the forest. It was a call for help. It was the unmistakable voice of Otohime!

The man hurried into the woods. He climbed towards where he heard the voice. Finally, he reached the place where he had set his traps. There, caught in one of his snares, was the body of a large, beautiful, white-furred fox. But it was too late; the fox was dead.

The voice of Otohime was never again heard in the village.

Alphabetical list of yōkai