In the White Mountain monastery, Takuan acquired a fox cub that thereafter followed him everywhere. This fox cub turned out to be so clever and cunning that Takuan gave him the nickname ‘Jin,’ which means ‘human,’ because, according to Takuan, the fox cub was not inferior to any human in intelligence or cunning. Except, of course, for Takuan himself, who held that opinion.
As befits an intelligent forest creature, the fox cub was independent-minded. While following Takuan, he would often disappear for long periods in the woods. Takuan, accustomed to this behavior, concluded that the urban and even village life did not suit the fox cub. Takuan was not mistaken in this, although he had no idea what the fox cub was up to. It is not known for certain what was on the fox cub’s mind; only that he was a faithful friend and companion to Takuan. On numerous occasions, Jin the fox cub rescued Takuan from troubles into which he would fall, succumbing to his own passions.
The reader becomes acquainted with a fox cub in the White Mountain monastery, where Takuan undergoes initiation as a novice and receives a little fox cub instead of a pair of wolves. Leaving the monastery, Takuan takes the fox cub along with him.
Throughout the entire first book, the fox cub closely follows Takuan and helps him overcome a badger and escape captivity. Takuan’s misadventures intrigue the fox cub, and he eagerly listens to the boy’s self-assured tales.
In the second book, the fox cub plays an even more significant role: he leads a hapless sorcerer to lost treasures and later to those to whom the treasures rightfully belong.
Finally, in the third book, the fox cub Jin comes to the aid of Takuan’s family. To find out the troubles encountered by Takuan’s mother and sister, as well as how they were helped by a fox cub named Jin, you must listen to the whole story of ‘Takuan from Koto.’
Takuan lifted his head just enough to see the cover shift to the side of the basket. A pointed face with red fur poked out, and two sly fox eyes, jet black, stared at Takuan.
But then he heard a soft yelp. He looked up at the sound and saw the fox cub dragging a white kamunushi robe. “You are no less a joyful jester than myself, I see!” Takuan rejoiced and his heart warmed back up in an instant. The little fox let the robe fall to Takuan’s feet, then deftly climbed onto his shoulders and licked away the salty tears.
The fox fell on its back and began to wiggle. Takuan scratched the white fur on the fox’s belly and his friend purred contentedly.
“Smarter than these illiterate peasants, you are,” Takuan said. “It’s time to give you a proper name. I will call you Jin, which means ‘human’. After all, you are no less smart and cunning than myself.”
The little fox twitched its paws in agreement.
The honeysuckle branches stirred and someone’s sharp muzzle appeared. Takuan saw a soft nose, and then a face – and a red fox named Jin padded out into the clearing. With all his worries, Takuan had completely forgotten about his friend, who must have been off hunting all day. And now, here he was, looking at Takuan with eyes that gleamed with curiosity.
If the fox were a man, he would now think like this: “You couldn’t leave him alone even for a day, could you? Look at the fine mess he’s gotten himself into. How did he manage to tie himself up? And who are his new companions?” But Jin was not a man, so he did not waste time.