New Year’s Eve Fox Fires under the Enoki Tree near Ōji (Ōji shōzoku wenoki ōtsugomorihi no kitsunebi), from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Meisho Edo hyakkei)

Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 (1797-1858)
Publisher: Uoya Eikichi 魚屋栄吉 (active 1856-1860)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1857, 9th month
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 35.2 x 24.5 cm (13 7/8 x 9 5/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fire, fox, Japan, new year, night, oban, tree, ukiyo-e
Provenance research underway.

This print comes from Hiroshige's famous series, Meisho Edo Hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Edo), published between 1856 and 1858.  The scene describes the phenomenon of the gathering of all the foxes of the Kanto Plain, where the city of Edo was located, on New Year's Eve at a particular tree of Oji Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine sacred to the Inari cult.  The white fox was believed to be the messenger of the deity Inari, who was revered as the deity of cereals, especially of rice, Japan's staple grain. Edo period (1868-1912) essays and gazetteers reported that when all the foxes gathered each year, they would change their dress for their visit at the shrine, where they would receive orders from the deity for the coming year.  The foxfires emanating during their travel enabled farmers to predict the year's crops, either by their shadows or by their numbers.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, Milo Cleveland Beach, The Honorable and Mrs. William Leonhart. Yokohama: Prints From 19th Century Japan. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 283.
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 283, p. 341.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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