The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Omens, Superstitions, Taboos

The Fox: Fires
1964 - 1967

Kitsune: Kaji
[The Fox: Fires]
38.2 x 54.2 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text on the Right
In the summer of 1899, fires broke out every night in the miners' row houses (naya or kofu jutaku) in Yamano Coal Pit. The rumor spread in the neighboring Kamimio Coal Pit, and the people in this pit also wondered why the fires broke out. It was said that a lamp which was firmly hung fell down by itself and broke, scattering oil, which caught on fire. Additionally, it was said that another fire broke out in the west while miners were fighting a fire in a row house in the east. It was too strange for them to believe. Therefore, the miners (yamabito) in the pit had a fortuneteller tell their fortune, because they thought that it was not the time to regard fortunetelling as evil and avoid it. The fortuneteller answered that the fires were caused by a curse laid on the pit by a fox which wanted to avenge its cubs, because they were killed in a fox den which was buried when the pit was opened. Therefore, the fox was enshrined as Shoichii Inari Daimyojin (Senior First Rank Great Godess Inari) and became the guardian deity of the pit.

Note: That is why Yamano Coal Pit enshrined their guardian deity of the pit twenty years before other pits in the Chikuho region began to enshrine guardian deities around 1919, when the boom in coal mining industry was in its prime.

Text at the Bottom Left
These mysterious fires at night forced the miners in the pit to escape from their houses without carrying out their household effects. Some people were in such a panic that they took out only straw pillows or Japanese clogs.

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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