In Japanese folklore the kitsune (fox: 狐) had the power to bewitch people, possess them, or take their human form (fox possession: 狐憑き or 狐付き). Among the best known fox tales were those recounting the life of Kuzunoha. The first theatrical drama was the puppet play Ashiya Dôman Ôuchi kagami (An imperial mirror of Ashiya Dôman: (蘆屋道満大内鑑) in 1734 in Osaka. Kabuki’s premiere followed in 1737 in Edo. Yomeiri Shinodazuma (The wedding of the wife from Shinoda Forest: 嫁入信田妻) is a later adaptation of the Kuzunoha tale.
In the central story, Kuzunoha was saved from hunters by Abe no Yasuna, a twelfth-century nobleman. The grateful fox, in the guise of a maiden (or in some versions a princess), marries him and bears a child named Dôji, who will grow up to become the renowned astrologer Abe no Seimei. Eventually Kuzunoha is compelled to return to her fox world.
The actor Ichikawa Yonezô III is portrayed in a roundel, as if reflected in a mirror. Behind the roundel, the background is composed of a striped banner and a branch of flowering cherry.
References: KNP-6, p. 119;