Kitsune Mask Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Kitsune Mask Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

You’ve probably seen them. Japanese-style fox masks that have made their way into popular culture by means of anime, manga, and yes… skin art! They actually have quite a long history behind them and today we’ll talk about kitsune mask tattoos to tell you all about them.

We’ll cover symbolism, meanings, and more so that you can get a better idea of exactly what a Kitsune mask tattoo means. We’ll give you a hint: Like the foxes they represent, there’s more to these masks than meets the eye!


What is the History of Kitsune Mask Tattoos?

In the year 711 A.D., the first Kitsune shrine was built on Inari mountain in Kyoto, although it is believed that the kitsune myth dates back much further. Guardians of temple shrines, the kitsune or ‘9 tailed foxes’ were associated with the goddess Inari, who influenced things like fertility, agriculture, and rice.

The foxes themselves were also tricksters, sometimes appearing as priests in order to trick villagers, or sometimes as beautiful women in order to seduce men into loving them. They were also thought to be bound if you gave them a gift and wealthy villagers were often accused of having made a deal with the kitsune to obtain their wealth.

Kistsune masks first make their appearance in the 14th century in Japanese Noh, which is classical music drama, and in Kyogen, which is more lighthearted and comical theatre.

While we can’t say when the first kitsune mask tattoos appeared, with a mythos that goes back arguably to Japan’s very roots, we imagine that it’s a very old tradition, indeed.


What Do Kitsune Mask Tattoos Symbolize?

Kitsune Mask tattoos symbolize the wilder aspects of personality.

The Kisune were tricksters, after all, and such phenomenon as rain of a sunny day was said to be the influence of the kitsune on the weather itself. The symbolism of any mask is also that of a role that may be played or discarded at will.

More often than not, this symbolizes that the wearer has a bit of mischief about them and a playfulness of spirit that only a special few will get to see and to know.

These masks have a very rich history and are traditionally worn in Shinto rites. As such, you can find many different types of kitsune masks, each with their own unique ‘flavor’ and lore behind them. Some examples of this include:

  • Gin-Tenko, the silver fox
  • Hahakistue, the mother fox
  • Hakuko, the white fox
  • Kinko, the gold fox
  • Ryuko, the dragon fox

These are just a few examples to give you an idea of the rich history and tradition behind kitsune mask tattoos. We encourage that you do a little homework to see which fox fits you the best. After all, you want to make sure that your mask not only fits, but that it also makes you complete!


What Do Kitsune Mask Tattoos Mean?

As far as meanings, this will be a deeply personal thing, but kitsune masks tattoos can indicate that one is of mischievous spirit, or in its role as a temple guardian then a kitsune mask tattoo could also mean that the owner fiercely defends the people and beliefs that they hold the most dear.

Depending on the type of fox, this could also change the meaning.

For instance, the Gin-Tenko is said to grant gifts to those who respect them properly, but they can also possess humans and see the future with a clarity beyond the natural. Thus, this could be a good tattoo for one with a lot of charisma and foresight.

Kitsune mask tattoos can also simply mean that the owner is fond of Japanese culture, include Noh or Kyogen theatre, and with its appearances in manga and anime then this tattoo option might be a great choice for fans of that genre or specific characters who might don the kitsune mask from time to time.


Where Do Kitsune Mask Tattoos Usually Go?

Kitsune mask tattoos might be prominently displayed on the outer arm, but more often they will be placed somewhere that is easily hidden and a little more intimate, such as the hip, ankle, or even as part of a large and elegant backpiece.

The Japanese style means that you can really make something graceful and with a good amount of color then you can have a beautiful tattoo that will last a lifetime. The placement, ultimately, is going to be up to you, but once you decide if it will be public or private then the hardest part is already done.

The perfect placement will come to you!


Characteristics and Styles of Kitsune Mask Tattoos

There are many different styles when it comes to kitsune mask tattoos so you’ll have a big decision ahead of you as to how to render your own. Some prefer the traditional Japanese style, while others like a more comical style such as New School or even a very colorful one, such as Watercolor.

The last really makes for quite a beautiful fit with the traditional Japanese imagery, bringing eye-popping color into the equation – something to look into once you’ve settled on your design. Trust us on this one, you’ll be more than happy that you took the time to check!


Some closing words on Kitsune Mask tattoos

Today we’ve explored kitsune mask tattoos and like a lot of popular symbols, this one has some seriously long roots that go right down to the founding of Japan itself. Whether they are guarding shrines, tricking villagers, or seducing the unwary, the Kitsune definitely have had an impact on our imaginations.

If you are looking for a tattoo that can tell the world a little about it, while showcasing it in beautiful and traditional Japanese imagery, then look no further than Kitsune mask tattoos. Just be sure to take a little time to learn about the different types of kitsune.

After all, you want to make sure that your own mask fits perfectly, don’t you?

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