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Image for post
Shiogama Shrine in the spring, in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture. Image in the Public Domain.

Foxes were traditionally viewed in Japan not merely as animals but as supernatural tricksters that did not bode well for health or wealth. Some supernatural foxes were seen as good, and serving the kami Inari, but many were simply regarded as bad news. And when the supernatural foxes got out of control, one could summon a foxkiller.

Northern-born 17th century samurai Katsumata Yazaemon’s services as a foxkiller were highly esteemed. He would quell the fox problem, but rather than exorcism, Yazaemon preferred the more direct means of poison.

In all probability, the man really did exist. At least, I haven’t been able to find any information to the contrary. He lived at some point in the late 17th to early 18th century, as a vassal to the house of Date, who ruled from the Sendai Castle town. One story has Yazaemon as a contemporary of the 4th Sendai domain lord Date Tsunamura, but any further detail presently eludes me. He was a musketman (teppokata ashigaru)and lived in Kita-gojuninmachi, a foot soldiers’ neighborhood just north across the Hirose River from Sendai Castle. …


Nyri Bakkalian

Who you are is #WorthFightingFor. Award winning author, artist, traveler. PGH-based, expat-raised, runs on coffee & retro fashion.