There is another shape-shifter amongst the youkai: kitsune (or fox). Kitsune live a long life, have magical powers, and like the tanuki, the kitsune can take on human form. Most of the time, it will turn itself into a beautiful woman to taunt men, but on occasions can also transform into an older man or young girl. This type of fox is known as 野狐 yako. In folklore, it is seen as a trickster, and likes to take on human appearance to play its pranks. However, unlike the other youkai I previously mentioned, kitsune is very intelligent. Physically speaking, the more tails it possesses, the more intelligent it is said to be. Since this fox spirit can have up to nine tails! (For all you manga fans out there, remind you of anyone??)
The kitsune is also famous for being Oinari’s (shinto god of rice) messenger. Which is why you will find many statues of a fox in and around shrines in Japan. The kitsune is also connected to the idea of 鬼門 (きもん) kimon, or demon gate, the place where all demons gather to enter our world. Therefore, the fox spirit is there to ward of all evil. This type of fox is called 善狐 zenko.
The third type of kitsune is ninko, who likes to possess humans. Those possessed by a fox are called kitsunetsuki, and possession often leads them to insanity. In the olden days, people would sometimes even be burned to try to chase out the fox (((p-д-q)))
Of the three type of foxes, I would definitely rather meet a zenko!