For two evenings on the weekend before Halloween this year, the city of Kagoshima was privy to an unusual Halloween parade. Seeing children dressed as witches, ghosts, vampires, or donning cat ears has become commonplace in Japan, but this was entirely different.

In complete silence save the sound of a kagura suzu bell tree echoing through the night air in a slow rhythm, a solemn procession of about 20 kimono-clad men and women holding traditional paper lanterns and wearing fox masks made its way down the city streets and through a shopping arcade. At the front, leading the procession, was a man holding a tattered red paper parasol and wearing tall one-toothed geta sandals, and behind him, a woman attired in the traditional wedding dress of the Shinto religion.

Frames captured from YouTube: 「幻空堂 お狐ハロウィン 狐の嫁入り2022」/ Reproduced with permission from Genkūdō 幻空堂 (@genkudou)

This was a "fox wedding" procession, known in Japanese as 狐の嫁入り kitsune no yomeiri. The term can either refer to atmospheric ghost lights similar to will-o'-wisps or to mysterious wedding processions conducted by foxes, known in Japanese folklore to be masters of shape-shifting. They are frequently depicted as taking human guise.

For the last six years, and with the city's permission, mask artist Genkūdō 幻空堂 (@genkudou) has been organizing a kitsune no yomeiri procession and inviting people to participate. While promoting his mask business, it's also a wonderful way of celebrating Halloween in a way that taps into Japan's own rich heritage of tales of the supernatural.

Reproduced with permission from Genkūdō 幻空堂 (@genkudou)

As an additional benefit to the community, the participants volunteered their time after the procession to clean up trash as well:

If you're interested in buying one of Genkūdō's masks and other fox mask related goods, they're available on their online store here.

Also, for those who live in the Kagoshima area, until November 13th, 2022, you can attend an exhibition by Genkūdō called 幻灯展 gentōten on the theme of foxes and lanterns in the gallery space of 仙巌園 Sengan-en, Kagoshima's most famous Japanese garden.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.