Origins to her tale can be found in the Chinese book Substitute for Drunkenness by Langye.
The story states that she is a fox spirit who, once known as Daji, who was the favourite concubine of King Zhou of China. She eventually flies to Japan where she became Tamamo-no-mae, and bewitches the Japanese Emperor.
The Emperor then finds his health waning and his fortune teller eventually reveals Tamamo-no-mae as a fox. After a lengthy pursuit she is then killed by an arrow. The creatures fallen body transforms into another Yōkai called the Sesshō-seki.
It is said she is far more dangerous than a general Kitsune and most depictions of her show her as a fox with 9 tails. The most powerful of supernatural foxes, as they sprout more tails as they age. However, in depictions from the Otogi Zōshi she only has two tails.
She is also described in its pages as:
‘the smartest and most beautiful woman in the whole country and perhaps the world, [whose] body naturally exuded a lovely scent, and her clothes stayed beautiful all day.’1
- View the Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki online here: Konjaku Online.
1. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
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