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New Year's Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree, Ôji (1857)

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About the Art

According to an ancient legend, each New Year’s Eve foxes with magical powers would gather beneath the Chinese hackberry tree. The foxes worshipped the rice deity Inari, and would gather and then proceed to the Oji Inari shrine, where Inari would give them instructions for the coming year.

Local peasants claimed to be able to forecast the harvests from the number of magic foxes and the form taken by the ghostly lights.

Hiroshige takes us to a gathering on a cold and starry night, as the foxes stream out across the field and mass around a solitary tree. The shrine lies hidden amongst the pitch black trees across the plain.

One of the last prints from Hiroshige’s final triumphant series “100 Famous Views of Edo”, this is actually print 118. The series was so popular it overran it’s original ambition of 100 views and reached 120. The final print was completed by Hiroshige II, just after Hiroshige’s death.

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