There is a traditional Kanton hand-clapping rhyme that tells the story of a foolish child grabbing the tails of a ninetales in turn, detailing all of the different curses that will befall them as a consequence. Although originally Japanese, the song has an English translation which, whilst mostly similar in meaning, has been adapted to preserve the rhymes and rhythm. The song is as follows:
Mama, mama, I felt the first tail,
As bright as a penny and as soft as a veil.
I think I did wrong, but I do not know why,
Because there’s night in my eyes and not a star in the sky.
Mama, mama, I felt the next tail,
As light as a cloud and as sleek as a scale.
I think I did wrong, but I do not know how,
Because there’s blood on my tongue and sweat on my brow.
Mama, mama, I felt the third tail,
As thick as a bush and so golden and pale.
I think I did wrong, for all I can tell,
Because there’s fire in my chest that no water can quell.
Mama, mama, I felt the fourth tail,
As long as a ribbon and smooth as a gale.
I think I did wrong, or so I can guess,
Because there’s hands on my back that keep pulling my dress.
Mama, mama, I felt the fifth tail,
Swirling like wood smoke and shining like hail.
I think I did wrong, or something akin,
Because there’s an ache in my bones and bites on my skin.
Mama, mama, I felt the sixth tail,
The golden of grain but not nearly so frail.
I think I did wrong, made some kind of mistake,
Because my head’s full of nightmares that don’t leave when I wake.
Mama, mama, I touched them again,
As nice on the skin as a warm summer rain.
I think I did wrong, it must be the case,
Because there’s a girl in the mirror who’s not got my face.
Mama, mama, I can’t count any more,
There’s teeth in my heart and a hand in my core.
The pain’s in my head and my bones have turned weak,
So let down my body and leave me to sleep.
The last line is often shouted, traditionally followed by the children dropping to the floor and closing their eyes. The length and content of the song varies across the Japanese regions.