The semantics of images of foxes in Japanese culture as a reflection of the concept of the Other
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Japan, religion, foxes-shape-shifters, Inari, Goddess of Rice, Yokai, Alien, the Other.

How to Cite

1. Павленко Н. The semantics of images of foxes in Japanese culture as a reflection of the concept of the Other // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2018. № 3. C. 41-58.


This article analyzes the semantics of the Fox image in the context of the model of intercultural communication in the cultural landscape of Japan. As a rule, foxes in Japanese culture act in several forms. They are a consortium of rice goddess Inari, and as such they are placed in many temples in Japan. In folk beliefs the Fox is still ambivalent creature capable of shape-shifting. It is believed that this aspect of the symbolism of foxes migrated to Japan from China, where common ideas about special foxes with supernatural abilities. Taking the form of charming beauties, they deprive men of vitality, killing them. But they can harm a person otherwise by sending him illness. This spectrum of contradictory ideas reflects both authentic representations of the Japanese people and borrowed from foreign cultures. In these believes the Fox is a kind of marginal being – a bearer of blessings, and the bearer of negative qualities that threaten a man. At the level of everyday life, the image of the Fox-werewolf was a reflection on the fear of traditional Japanese society before the possible heterogeneity. Any exit beyond homogeneity was perceived as a threat to society, and the bearer of special features was declared be a monster or an individual connected with monsters.

However, this ambivalence is not static, diametrically opposed features are constantly intertwined, transformed into each other, and it is impossible to distinguish what was borrowed, and where are the development of national beliefs and popular views. However, in China ideas about foxes often performed the same function, designed to be a reflection on encounter with the Other.
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