Fox procession in Oji
Oji kitsune no gyoretsu
31 December 2016 – 1 January 2017
It is not out of the blue if a fox god inspires Babymetal in our age. Kitsune, or the fox, used to be a familiar animal for the Japanese, as for many other peoples, holding a privileged place in folklore. Traditionally, kitsune is known for its propensity to “fox” people, often in the guise of a human girl as depicted in Japanese folktales. But the fox is also regarded as a sacred being, venerated as the messenger of the deity “Inari”.
Legend holds that on New Year’s Eve, a number of foxes from all over the Kanto region came to gather at Oji, a town located in northern Tokyo. The foxes changed into their formal kimono under a big tree and thence solemnly marched in procession to Oji Inari Shrine to pay New Year’s homage. Hiroshige Utagawa depicted the scene in one of his ukiyo-e works(*). It is also believed that the shrine built adjacent to the legendary tree is the present Shozoku Inari Shrine (shôzoku means costume).
* “New Year’s Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree in Oji”, “Hundred Views of Edo”.
The present Fox Procession (“kitsune no gyoretsu”) was started twenty-four years ago by the locals who wished to pass down the legend and traditions to the next generation. Late at night, on New Year’s Eve, the town of Oji seems enchanted by the magic. People in fox makeup gather at Shozoku Inari Shrine and from there, walk in procession with traditional lanterns to Oji Inari Shrine.
Witness the fabulous procession and get immersed in a good old atmosphere of the locality. Perhaps, you may also like to join as one of these legendary foxes (prior reservation required).
(photos from last year)
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