Kitsunebi (which translates as fox fire) appear as small balls of coloured light floating in long chains about a metre above the ground. They are often a sign that a fox wedding or demon parade are occurring. This strange phenomenon is caused by magical foxes who breathe out balls of fire and use them as lanterns to light their way at night. Humans can only see the lights, but the kitsune (foxes) remain invisible nearby. It is important not to follow these lights as they may be a trick, guiding the unwary towards a group of hungry yokai.

'Fox Fires on New Year's Eve in Oji' from the series 'One-hundred View of Famous Places in Edo' - Utagawa Hiroshige, 1857.

 'Scene of Foxfire (Kitsunebi) from the play Honcho Nijushiko' - Toyohara Chiknobu, 1898.
Matthew Meyer

Toriyama Sekien    

Unknown artist - late Edo period