Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858)
New Year’s Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree, Ōji
From the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1857
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1991

In addition to its importance in the context of Buddhism, Ōji district was also praised as a sacred site by Shinto devotees. Here, Hiroshige shows supernatural foxes (kitsune) - shape-shifting creatures that occasionally assumed human form – gathering beneath a sacred tree. The flames hovering beside them are flashes of foxfire (kitsunebi), with which the animals can beguile humans.

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