(Japan 1949 – )
47.5 x 69.5 cm image; 53.5 x 74.5 cm sheet
Okamoto draws on traditional Japanese art in both his subject matter and style. This print is one of a series based on tales that appear in both folklore and Kyogen theatre, of foxes assuming the shape of beautiful women to entertain and seduce travellers.
In Japanese folklore there are many examples of animals transforming themselves into human form. Usually the fox is seen as an evil creature, thought to be possessed of spiritual power and capable of bewitching people. There are many folktales in which a fox marries a man by assuming the shape of a woman.
The card game spread out before the young girls is called 'hanafuda', a gambling game comprised of twelve 4-card suits, four for each month of the year, each decorated with seasonal flowers corresponding to a particular month of the year. The game is a favourite at New Year's festivities.
The use of bright colours, stylized waves and clouds reflects Okamoto's indebtedness to indigenous design traditions. He likes to use goldleaf because it changes expression as time passes and the light on it varies.
Okamoto was born in Hokkaido, educated at Nihon University and now resides in Kanagawa.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 65.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 65, 76 (colour illus.). cat.no. 44
The Urban Bonsai: