Tamamo no Mae By Matt on October 3, 2015, in All Yōkai, China, fox, India, Kansai, Kantō, Kyōto, shape-changer, The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits, Tochigi, woman



Translation: a nickname literally meaning “Lady Duckweed”

Appearance: Tamamo no Mae is one of the most famous kitsune in Japanese mythology. A nine-tailed magical fox, she is also one of the most powerful yōkai that has ever lived. Her magical abilities were matched only by her trickiness and lust for power. Tamamo no Mae lived during the Heian period, & though she may not have succeeded in her plan lớn kill the emperor và take his place, her actions destabilized the country and lead it towards one of the most important civil wars in Japanese history. For that reason, Tamamo no Mae is considered one of the Nihon San dẻo Aku Yōkai—the Three Terrible Yōkai of Japan.

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Origin: Tamamo no Mae appears in numerous texts & has been a popular subject throughout Japanese history. Her story is portrayed in literature, noh, kabuki, bunraku, and other forms of art. There are several variations on her story.

Legends: Tamamo no Mae was born some 3,500 years ago in what is now China. Her early life is a mystery, but she eventually became a powerful sorceress. After hundreds of more years she became a trắng faced, golden furred kyūbi no kitsune—a nine-tailed fox with supreme magical power. In addition, she was an expert at manipulation. She used her charms và wit to advance her standing and influence world affairs.

During the Shang Dynasty Tamamo no Mae was known as Daji. She disguised herself as a beautiful woman and became the favorite concubine of King Zhou of Shang. Daji was a mã sản phẩm of human depravity. She held orgies in the palace gardens. Her fondness for watching and inventing new forms of torture are legendary. Daji eventually brought about the fall of the entire Shang Dynasty. She managed to lớn escape execution, and fled to lớn the Magadha kingdom in India in 1046 BCE.

In Magadha, she was known as Lady Kayō, & became a consort of King Kalmashapada, known in japan as Hanzoku. She used her beauty and charms to dominate the king, causing him to devour children, murder priests, và commit other unspeakable horrors. Eventually—whether because she ran out children lớn eat or because Kalmashapada began to lớn turn away from her và towards Buddhism—she fled back to China.

During the Zhou Dynasty she called herself Bao Si, và was known as one of the most desirable women in all of China. In 779 BCE she became a concubine of King You. Not satisfied as just a mistress, she manipulated the king into deposing his wife Queen Shen và making Bao đê mê his new queen. Though she was beautiful, Bao đam mê rarely ever smiled. In order khổng lồ please his beautiful new wife, King You committed acts of such evil và atrocity that eventually all of his nobles abandoned & betrayed him. Eventually, King You was killed và Bao say đắm captured và the Western Zhou Dynasty was brought lớn an kết thúc in 771 BCE. Somehow Bao đắm say managed khổng lồ escape again; she went into hiding for many years.

Little is known of her activities until the 700s, when she resurfaced disguised as a 16-year old girl named Wakamo. She tricked the leaders of the 10th Japanese envoy to lớn the Tang Dynasty—Kibi no Makibi, Abe no Nakamaro, and Ganjin—as they were preparing to lớn return trang chủ to Japan. Wakamo joined their crew & took the ship to Japan, where she hid herself away for over 300 years.

In the 1090s, she resurfaced once again. This time she transformed herself into a human baby & hid by the side of the road. A married couple found the baby và rescued it, taking her in as their daughter và naming her Mikuzume. She proved lớn be an exceedingly intelligent and talented young girl, và was so beautiful that she attracted to lớn attention of everyone around her. When she was 7 years old, Mikuzume recited poetry before the emperor. His imperial majesty immediately took a liking khổng lồ her and employed her as a servant in his court.

Mikuzume excelled at court, absorbing knowledge like a sponge. There was no question she could not answer, whether it was about music, history, astronomy, religion, or Chinese classics. Her clothes were always clean và unwrinkled. She always smelled pleasant. Mikuzume had the most beautiful face in all of Japan, and everyone who saw her loved her.

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During the summer of her 18th year, a poetry và instrument recital was held in Mikuzume’s honor. During the recital, an unexpected storm fell upon the palace. All of the candles in the recital room were snuffed, leaving the participants in the dark. Suddenly, a bright light emanated from Mikuzume’s body, illuminating the room. Everybody at court was so impressed by her genius and declared that she must have had an exceedingly good and holy previous life. She was given the name Tamamo no Mae. Emperor Toba, already exceedingly fond of her, made her his consort.

Almost immediately after she became the emperor’s consort, the emperor fell deathly ill. None of the court physicians could determine the cause, and so the onmyōji Abe no Yasunari was called in. Abe no Yasunari read the emperor’s fortune và divined that he was marked by a bad omen. After that, the highest priests và monks were summoned lớn the palace to lớn pray for the emperor’s health.

The best prayers of the highest priests had no effect, however. The emperor continued to lớn grow worse. Abe no Yasunari was summoned again lớn read the emperor’s fortune. This time, to lớn his horror the onmyōji discovered that the emperor’s beloved Tamamo no Mae was the cause of his illness. She was a kitsune in disguise, & was shortening the emperor’s life span in order khổng lồ take over as ruler of Japan. Emperor Toba was reluctant lớn believe the diviner’s words, but agreed to kiểm tra Tamamo no Mae just lớn be sure.

To save the emperor’s life, Abe no Yasunari prepared the Taizan Fukun no Sai, the most secret and most powerful spell known to lớn onmyōdō. Tamamo no Mae was ordered to lớn perform part of the ritual. They reasoned that an evil spirit would not be able khổng lồ participate in such a holy ritual. Though she was reluctant lớn participate, the emperor’s ministers persuaded her. They told her that it would increase her standing an admiration among the court. She had little choice but to accept.

When the ritual was performed, Tamamo no Mae dressed even more beautifully than normal. She recited the holy worlds as expected and played her part extremely well. But just as she prepared khổng lồ wave the ceremonial staff, she vanished. Abe no Yasunari’s divination was confirmed. The court flew into an uproar.

Soon after, word arrived that women & children were disappearing near Nasuno in Shimotsuke Province. The court sorcerers determined that Tamamo no Mae was the cause, và it was decided that she must be destroyed once & for all. The emperor summoned the best warriors in all of the land & then charged the most superb of them, Kazusanosuke & Miuranosuke, khổng lồ find Tamamo no Mae. The warriors gladly accepted the honor. They purified themselves and set out with an army of 80,000 men lớn slay the nine-tailed kitsune.

Upon reaching Nasuno the army quickly found the kitsune. The warriors chased her for days and days, but the fox used her magical powers & outsmarted them time & time again, easily escaping. The army grew weary, & frustration mix in. It seemed that nothing they did was working. However, Kazusanosuke and Miuranosuke would not accept the shame of defeat and vowed lớn press on. They practiced harder, honing their tactics, và eventually picked up the kitsune’s trail.

One night, Miuranosuke had a prophetic dream. A beautiful young girl appeared before him, crying. She begged: “Tomorrow I will thua my life to lớn you. Please save me.” Miuranosuke adamantly refused, & upon waking the warriors set out again lớn find Tamamo no Mae. Sure enough, the next day they caught her. Miuranosuke fired two arrows, one through the fox’s flank and one through its neck. Kazusanosuke swung his blade. It was over, just as the dream had said.

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However, Tamamo no Mae’s evil did not over with her death. One year after she died, Emperor Konoe died, heirless. The following year, her lover and former Emperor Toba died as well. A succession crisis ignited between forces loyal to Emperor Go-Shirakawa & forces loyal lớn former Emperor Sutoku. This crisis started the Fujiwara-Minamoto rivalry that led to the Genpei War, the end of the Heian period, & the rise of the first shoguns. As if that were not enough, Tamamo no Mae’s spirit haunted a massive boulder which killed every living thing that touched it.