It occurred to me that a few of the references in Fox Dreams might be a bit obscure, and the stories work better with the right images. 😉
Kitsune (keet-snay) is the fox and fox spirit, Usagi the rabbit, and Tanuki is a Japanese raccoon dog and spirit.
Kitsune are mischievous shapeshifters who become more powerful the longer they live, as represented by the number of tails they have. Although inherently tricksy and sly, for the right person they can make loyal and loving friends, lovers, and wives. The Fox Wife is a traditional tale that usually has the fox-woman proving to be a loving and exceptional wife, until she is revealed…sometimes by her tails showing under her gown, or her true face reflected in a pond…and must leave.
Inari is the patron kami of rice, fertility and foxes. She likes to take the form of a fox, and as such, is said to be the only nine-tailed Kitsune in existence, as she won’t tolerate anyone having more power than she.
Tanuki are shape-changers, and one tale tells how they love to masquerade as a fat little cooking pot on the hearth until someone fills it with food, at which point it changes back and runs away with the meal! They are generally portrayed as happy, lusty, and slightly stupid, able to be led into foolish situations with little effort.
Hope that helps! At the least, I hope you leave knowing a little more about the fascinating myths and legends and animals of Japan! 🙂