TITLE: Kitsune (Fox) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
DESCRIPTION: Washi Kitsune (Fox) Mask
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Celebration; Purification
MAIN MATERIAL: washi (Japanese paper)
OTHER MATERIALS: water-based paint; silk cord
Kitsune, or fox, masks are popular in Japan and worn in many types of theater and Shinto celebrations. Wood and kanshitsu masks are used in theater; paper masks like this one are used primarily by the public during festivals such as rice harvest or Oji’s Kitsune no Gyoretsu (Fox Parade) on New Year’s Eve. The fox’s popularity is related to its role as a shape-shifting messenger of the god Inari, protector of rice and fertility. The fox can act benignly or malevolently, bringing a rich harvest or wealth, or stealing these things.