A friend of mine, who’s an international exchange student from Japan now currently studying in China, contributes this story. Since she always says fox is her spirit animal, this story about a fox protector god is her favorite to share. We interviewed in Chinese so the following is only rough translation of what she shared.
A healer were once called to get rid of the spirit that was making someone ill. The spirit then turned out to be a fox. The fox explained that he did not causing anyone sick intentionally but was only hoping to find food. The fox then took out a little white ball (foxes often have one, according to the setting of the tale), tossing it around and playing it, but a young man quickly grabbed the ball from the fox. The fox cried and pleaded for the man to give it back to him, saying if the man did not give it back to him, he would be his enemy forever but if he did, he would be the man’s protector god. The man took the deal and returned the ball to the fox.
Sometime later the man went on a trip and when he was on his way home at night, he got lost. He was scared because the neighborhood was known to be dangerous. He suddenly remembered the fox’s promise and called “Fox! Fox!”. In an instant, the fox came to him. The man asked the fox to stay with him so the fox did, and he even went ahead to lead the way, avoiding all the usual paths. Both of them kept quiet and cautious. When they were passing a fence, the man overheard a group of men planning to commit their robbery on the usual path for the travelers, while the fox led him a way that no one else would expect him to go. The fox disappeared once the man was safe. The fox stayed to his words and often rescued the man later. Touched by the fox’s royalty, the man was glad that he chose to return the ball.
In this particular tale, fox is naughty but is not bad, and even a royal animal, but there are other entries of fox tales I got from both this friend and others served for comparisons. Though most fox tales portray fox as a sly animal, royal fox is actually not an uncommon theme in East Asian tales.