After reaching 1,000 years of age gaining its ninth tail, a kitsune turns a golden color, becoming a 'Tenko' (天狐 "heavenly fox"/"celestial fox"), the most powerful form of the kitsune, and then ascends to the heavens.

Kitsune are presumably born(?), come into existence(?), with one tail. After one-hundred years, they start getting more, one every 100 years. So this can mean either at 100 they get another tail, or it takes another 100 years to get their second tail. So the kitsune is either 100 or 200 years old at the time of getting two tails. This means they are either 800 or 900 at the time of getting their ninth tail.

Why does it take another 100 or 200 years to ascend to heaven?

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    Good question. The number likely has significance, but strict base 10 is not so common in terms of magic numbers, in my experience. Look into numerology. – DukeZhou May 11 '18 at 19:18
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    This isn't a Japanese tradition but actually a Chinese one that became known in Japan. So @DukeZhou the reason for "1000" is not so much about magic number as it is that "thousand" is a single character in Chinese and used figuratively to designate "great numbers". The original source material is better translated as "After reaching an ancient age, the fox reaches the heavens and become a celestial fox." – Semaphore May 12 '18 at 6:19
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    @Semaphore I stand corrected. (Numerology certainly plays an important role in Chinese mythology dating back to the Lo Shu Turtle, but here your making the point that 1000 is being used euphemistically. This reminds me of wider usage of the Roman numeral M, and I will also note that in Chinese martial folklore, the idea of "training for 10 years" has become something of a trope!) – DukeZhou May 12 '18 at 23:28

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