arudhio is licensed under CC BY 2.0

arudhio is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ancient Kitsune fox spirit knee high socks are Shinto-chic.

Japan is famous for its cultural exports that have caught fire in the rest of the world: Unique food, eccentric entertainment, deep and rich literature, peaceful and aesthetic design, and ancient, internal spiritualism are all facets of life that Japan has managed to export to all of us with style and elegance. Now, it seems as if two of those facets are mixing and hoping to catch on fire with the rest of us: Fashion and spiritualism.

That’s right. If online Japanese apparel retailer Village Vanguard has their way, every girl on the planet will be wearing these traditional knee-high socks with a twist: They’re patterned with Kitsune fox spirits that are traditionally found in in Shinto, the ethnic faith still practiced by many Japanese people as a way of connecting the present day to the ancients of the past. These Kitsune socks are not only very cute in the traditional Japanese schoolgirl chic style, but they also represent a symbol with much importance across the country.

The Kitsune, in Shinto, is a fox spirit that represents many different things to Shinto practitioners. Foxes were important to the culture and mythology of Ancient Japan, where they were thought of as shapeshifters who could transform into women. (It would be remiss not to insert some 1960s-1970s cultural reference here about the pervasiveness of the term “foxy” at that time.) Kitsunes were also thought of as the messengers of Inari, another Shinto spirit, and so at the entrance of every Inari temple in Japan, you will be hard-pressed not to notice the presence of at least a couple Kitsunes at the entrance or within the temple itself.

Pairs of the knee-high socks being sold by Village Vanguard, which are called “Okitsune-sama Knee High Socks”, sell for 3,420 yen, or $26 a pair. The socks come in white or black, with the image of the a Kitsune’s face patterned on the front of one leg, and the image of a Torii, which is a gate that leads to a Shinto shrine, on the front of the other.

One the backs of the legs, you’ll find some of the Kitsune’s nine tails, and on the soles of the socks are the imprints of a Kitsune paw.

When you wear the Okitsune-sama Knee High Socks, you’re not just wearing regular knee-high socks that make a statement harkening back to school uniform fashion, you’re making a statement that harkens back to Ancient Japan and the Shinto faith, donning the imagery and symbolism of an important feminine spirit that is still beloved, respected, and worshipped today.

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