Foxfires New Year’s Eve

Foxes gather at the large, old enoki (hackberry) tree on New Year’s Eve to prepare to pay homage at the Ōji Inari shrine, the headquarters of the Inari cult in eastern Japan (Kantō). The cult centers on the god of the rice field, for whom the fox serves as messenger. On the way to Ōji, the foxes have set a number of kitsunebi (foxfires), which farmers count to predict the upcoming rice harvest. Hiroshige’s print successfully conveys the mysterious atmosphere of the rite as the procession of foxes bearing fires approaches from the distant, dark forest under a starry sky.

 

 

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