Kuzunoha (葛の葉)

Kuzunoha is the name of a legendary fox. It is also called Kuzunohagitsune (the fox of Kuzunoha) or Shinodazuma (the wife from Shinoda).
The bunraku play featuring Kuzunoha, "Ashiya Doman Ouchi Kagami" (A Courtly Mirror of Doman ASHIYA), and the kabuki play with the same title which is based on the bunraku play are also commonly called 'Kuzunoha.'

Summary of the legend

The legend has some variant traditions, but its basic story is as follows:

In the reign of the Emperor Murakami, Akuemon ISHIKAWA in Kawachi Province, following the divination by his brother, Doman ASHIYA, to cure his ailing wife, goes to Shinoda forest of Izumi County in Izumi Province (present Izumi City, Osaka Prefecture) and tries to get a fresh liver of a wild fox. When ABE no Yasuna (a legendary figure) in Abeno Oji of Higashinari County in Settsu Province (present Abeno Ward, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture) visits Shinoda forest, he saves a fox that is being chased by a hunter and gets injured. Then, a women called Kuzunoha comes to Yasuna, cares for him, and gets him back home. While Kuzunoha nurses Yasuna, the two love each other, then, get married and have a son, Dojimaru (Gunji, the father of Yasuna, was killed by Akuemon, but Yasuna was avenged on Akuemon). When Dojimaru is five years old, Kuzunoha is revealed as the fox Yasuna had saved.
Kuzunoha returns to Shinoda forest leaving this poem:

If you miss me, come to Shinoda forest in Izumi Province to see regretful Kuzunoha.

Dojimaru is known later as ABE no Seimei, a prominent yin and yang master.

Yasuna realizes by her poem that Kuzunoha came to the human world to repay him for saving her, and goes to Shinoda forest with Dojimaru, receives a crystal ball and a golden box from Kuzunoha there and leaves her. A few years later, Dojimaru changes his name to Seimei, masters astorology, cures the Emperor of his disease with supernatural power of the tresures which Seimei has inherited from his mother, and is appointed as head of the Yin and Yang Office. But, Doman ASHIYA has told the Emperor badly fabricated tales about Seimei, so that Seimei has to compete in divining with Doman but defeats him, and Doman is beheaded because Yasuna, Seimei's father, who killed by Doman but has been revived by Seimei, has appealed to the Imperal court, and Seimei receives the degree of Doctor of Astorology.

Some of the works featuring ABE no Seimei refer to Kuzunoha. Refer to the works in which ABE no Seimei appears.

Related episodes

Kitsune udon (Kitsune soba, which is also called Tanuki (noodles)) is called Shinoda udon (Shinoda soba), which was named after Shinoda, Kuzunoha's birthplace.

Some elderly people in the Kansai region (especially in the Kinki area) call Inarizushi 'Shinoda.'

Among acrobatics in the Meiji period, there is an acrobatics called 'Shinodazuma' which features writing with both hands at the same time, writing with a brush in one's mouth, and so on.

Takaishi Station on the Nankai Main Line and Kita Shinoda Station on the Hanwa Line used to be 'Kuzuha' Station and 'Kuzuha Inari' Station respectively at the start.

Ankake no Tokijiro, a main character of Tenamonya Bamboo Hats, is set as a man who was 'born in Shinoda of Senshu.'

[Original Japanese]