97. The moon and the abandoned old woman (Obasute no tsuki)

A scene from the Noh play Obasuteyama i.e. "The mountain where the old woman was left to die". According to Japanese folklore, peasant families in certain regions abandoned elderly family members that had become a nuisance, and left them in the wilderness to die from starvation or exposure. Obasuteyama is also used as a symbol of self-sacrifice by the elders. A similar theme can be found in the 1983 movie Narayama Bushiko (“The Ballad of Mount Nara”) by Shohei Imamura. Yoshitoshi depicts a young man carrying an old woman up a mountain. Their path crosses a large pine tree, usually a symbol for long and healthy life. (published 1891)