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New Year's Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree (Ôji, shôzoku-enoki, ômisoka no kitsunebi)

Hiroshige Andô (Japanese, 1797–1858)

Eikichi Uoya (Japanese)

1857

Medium color woodblock print (oban) Measurements H: 13 15/16 x W: 9 5/8 in. (35.4 x 24.45 cm) Credit Purchase Accession Number 18.14.1 Location Not on View

Narrative

Hiroshige drew his subject matter from folklore as well as from poetry, literature, and history. This image depicts the legendary explanation for the luminescence known as foxfire, observed at the Inari shrine at Oji. According to folklore, ghostly foxes gathered at the nettle tree near the shrine on New Year's Eve. The number of lights (each one a fox) was thought to predict the abundance of the harvest in the coming year. The nettle tree in the print actually existed and was cut down early in this century.