Continue scrolling for curated lists of Kitsune name ideas by origin: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and even some great Biome/Place Names.
Asian Mythology is rich with tales of trickster foxes who shapechange into humanoid forms to fool and play mischief on unsuspecting humans.
Sometimes they are heroic, and sometimes they are villainous. They are known for their powerful magic and misdirection, with a sometimes wicked sense of humor.
The most well-known name of these trickster fox spirits are the Kitsune from Japan. They are so well known, in fact, that the Kitsune appear in many different Tabletop RPGs as player characters or NPCs. They even show up in our game Pathfinder.
They are magical and mischievous with a penchant for subverting expectations in social situations and playing word games. They are known for being Bards and Rogues.
Kitsune Naming Traditions
Names are always a sticking point for most shape-changing tricksters (much less the players who are taking them on).
Kitsune often will take a few names throughout their lives. They have the true Kitsune Name they use amongst their family and community and possibly a name for their identity amongst others.
A True Kitsune Name would be something they would only use with their own people, or their most precious loved ones. It is their identity without the mask of guile that allows them to integrate or infiltrate human society.
Their other name would be something given freely, as any human would give a name. It is the name of their mask or the alias. It is still their name, but it is an extra layer of protection to ensure no one knows who the real fox is.
The most common names for Kitsune come from Japan, which makes sense as Kitsune is the Japanese name for Fox Spirits. Sometimes in Japan they are considered servants of the Kami Inari Okami, who is the Spirit of Rice and Fertility. Other times they are malicious spirits called Yako, and they will possess humans.
They have been a part of Japanese folklore for centuries, showing up in the Konjaku Monogatarishū as early as 11th Century Japan.
Below is a list of 10 names for male and female Kitsune, along with some very loose translations of what they could mean.
- Akari – Brightness
- Chiharu – Clear Skies in Spring
- Emiko – Beautiful Child
- Fuyuko – Child of Winter
- Hana – Flower Blossom
- Izumi – Fountain or Spring
- Kiku – Chrysanthemum
- Suki – Beloved One
- Tsukiko – Moon Child
- Yuri – Gentle
- Genji – Two Beginnings
- Haru – Sun or Spring
- Hayate – Sudden Sound of Wind
- Shiori – Lithe or Bending
- Takeshi – Proud or Noble
- Junpei – Peaceful
- Ayumu – Waking Dream
- Akihito – Bright or Compassionate
- Kaede – Maple Tree
- Takumi – Skilled Artisan
The legends of fox spirits originally came from China before it migrated to the other regions of East and Southeast Asia.
In China, they are known as Huli jing. As in Japan, the Chinese Fox Spirit could be a noble spirit in service to the Gods, or it could be a devious and malicious trickster. The earliest references to Fox Spirits in written form comes in 27 CE during the Han Dynasty.
Later Dynasties of China would alternatively worship Fox Spirits as Gods or as servants of gods, or they would ban the worship and attempt to suppress it.
Most legends of Huli Jing were told as warnings to not get involved with spirits. Even the most benevolent ones can upend your life completely!
- Ah Lam – Peace
- Liling – White Jasmine
- Daiyu – Black Jade
- Zhan – Innocent
- Liu – Willow Tree
- Mingxia – Bright Clouds at Dawn
- Nuwa – Mother Goddess (actually Spirit from Chinese Mythology: Nuwa)
- Shoi-Ming – Life of Sunshine
- Jiang – River
- Lan – Orchid
- Yuze – Rain
- Yuchen – The Sun, Moon, and Stars
- Zihao – Catalpa tree
- Donghai – Eastern Sea
- Liang – Bright Light
- Song – Powerful
- Meilin – Plum Grove
- Qiu – Autumn
- Xiaojian – Healthy
- Siyu – Thinking of the World
On the Korean Peninsula, the Fox Spirit is known as the Kumiho. They share a very close similarity to the Huli Jing and the Kitsune, including the shape changing ability, powerful magic, and multiple tails.
Where they differ is in their temperament. Where Kitsune and Huli Jing are morally ambiguous (neither universally good nor universally evil), Kumiho are almost always and without fail malevolent spirits. They haunt graveyards and other forgotten holy sites, looking to beckon unknowing humans to their deaths, often feasting on the hearts and/or livers of their victims.
Kumiho are said to have powerful magic they control by use of a magical pearl or marble they use to steal a human’s “essence.” If a human manages to swallow the marble of a Kumiho, they can gain their own preternatural abilities. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a Pathfinder magic item to me!
- Choon-Hee – Girl born during the Spring
- Ha-Neul – Sky
- Hei-Ran – Graceful Orchid
- Kyung Mi – Honor and Beauty
- Moon – Learned, Possessing Knowledge
- Seung – Victorious
- Soo Min – Excellent and Clever
- Youra – Silky
- Wook – Sunrise
- Yun Hee – Lotus Flower, Pleasure
- Baek-Hyun – White Clever
- Dal – Moon
- Chan-Yeol – Bright and Fiery
- Kyong – Brightness
- Saem – Fountain or Spring
- In-Su – Preserving Wisdom
- Ha-Kun – Rooted in Intelligence
- Dae-Hyun – Big Show off
- Chung-Hee – Righteous
- Haneul – Heaven and Sky
In Vietnam, the Fox Spirit is known as the Hồ ly tinh, and is somewhat more ambiguous than the other Fox Spirits on our list.
The ho ly tinh are both benevolent and sometimes mischievous. They are known to be shape changers, who can take the form of comely humanoids to beckon people away from their homes. They are also known as protectors, becoming patron spirits for villages and settlements. They are sometimes worshiped by people who live in these areas and left offerings for good fortune.
- Anh – Peaceful
- Bian – Secretive or Hidden
- Cam – Citrus Fruit
- Hanh – Beautiful
- Hien – Gentle and Quiet
- Hyunh – Golden
- Xuan – Spring
- Tuyet – Snow
- Trang – Honorable
- Tien – Angel, Good Spirit
- Thao – Courteous
- Lam – Knowledgable
- Quan – Noble Warrior
- Quy – Precious
- Bao – Protection
- Ha – River
- Hoang – Golden
- Nghia – Forever
- Phuong – Destiny
- Son – Mountain
Oftentimes, the Kitsune are connected to the natural world around mortal existence. In Pathfinder, they might become a Ranger or a Druid. In other mythologies and games, they are protectors of the natural world, or the balance of energy. For a good example of this, go play Bioware’s award winning RPG Jade Empire and meet with the Forest Shadow.
As you can see from her name, she goes by the name of something having to do with the place she protects. Kitsune can do the same. Maybe they are named after where they were born, or the community they grew up in, or the current place they are called home.
In Pathfinder 1e, there are even Kitsune subraces that are different based on where they come from:
Earthkin Kitsune are the standard Kitsune as they are printed in the books and on the SRD. They live in Forests and Hills, and often secretly integrate with human settlements. Though they are known to have their own hidden enclaves in the deepest and remotest parts of nature.
Firekin Kitsune live in the deep desert. They are not a fan of human civilization, having clashed with humans long ago. They often will only integrate with human settlements very rarely, and even then like to obviously flout human customs and laws.
Voidkin Kitsune are a rare type of already rare people. They are planetouched, with some being scions of Celestial beings and others being offspring of the lower planes. They typically have either Snow White fur or Jet Black fur, depending on their lineage.
Waterkin Kitsune make their homes in the remote and frozen parts of the material plane. Tundra and Ice Flow are their lands. Their lairs are carved into icebergs and glaciers. They are often the least “personable” of the Kitsune, preferring to keep amongst their own. Though they still enjoy making friends with other races from time to time.
Finally we have the Windkin Kitsune. These foxes make their homes on the vast steppe plains or the high mountains of the world. Here they once let the four winds guide them as nomads. Most have given up the nomadic life, moving into cities with humans. However a few of the wilder tribes still exist out there, letting the wind guide them to their new homes.
A Biome or Place name could be something from one of these subraces of Kitsune, something of a nickname or family name passed down to a new child in the community. They could also be bestowed upon them by a local community of humans, elves, halflings, as a part of the folklore of the region.
In fact, some communities whose people may have grown up with Kitsune folklore in the area, may just refer to ALL Kitsune by this name.
- Peace Blossom
- Standing Stone
- Wild River
- Growling Fang
- Bright Hunter
- Autumn Leaf
- Shifting Sand
- Shadow Paw
- Cresting Wave
- Winter Wind
- Summer Dew
- Crashing Surf
- Warm Sands
- Fall Breeze
There is also no reason why a Kitsune wouldn’t also take on one of these names as a last name or family name if they are living amongst humans.
Chan-Yeoul Cresting Wave
Remember this is your character, so feel free to go nuts.
Stay Clever, Pathfinder!