On view installation I, November 19th, 2011–February 5, 2012In Japan, animals of rare coloration—white deer, red or blue bears, white or black foxes—were considered especially auspicious. White mice like Nehyōe, the hero of this tale, were believed to be messengers from Daikokuten, one of the seven gods of good fortune. It was customary to read Nehyōe's auspicious story on the occasion of the New Year to usher in a new era of success and prosperity.The Tale of Mice Nehyōe was a handsome, talented, and wealthy white mouse. His friend, the bat Danjō, helped arrange his marriage to the beautiful daughter of the mouse Kurando. Any woman of beauty cannot help but flaunt her good looks, and Nehyōe’s bride was no exception. On the very first night of their marriage, she shed her wedding dress, stole delicacies, and led her maidservants in a campaign of mischief. Nehyōe doted on his wife, despite her naughtiness, and they were rarely apart; together they had many children. One year, pregnant with another little mouse, she felt a particular craving for goose meat cut from the bird’s right shoulder, and she sent her ever-obedient husband to fulfill this unusual request. Nehyōe spotted a goose and slowly approached it from behind, but he mistakenly grabbed hold of its chest instead of its shoulder. The startled goose flew away with Nehyōe still clinging to it, eventually dropping him in a field in Tokiwa, very far north of his home in the capital. When Nehyōe’s friends heard that he had disappeared, they visited his wife and made efforts to find him. Sister Toad suggested she ask Lady Mole, a seer who lived in the Toba Mound, to tell her of Nehyōe’s future. Lady Mole predicted that Nehyōe would send his wife a letter and return the following summer. Nehyōe’s friend Danjō took to the skies, looking everywhere for Nehyōe from above. Meanwhile, Nehyōe wandered the countryside. Lonely and far from his family, he composed poems of lament. He ran into a wise local mouse, who sent him down into the village to look for help. He arrived at a comfortable house, walking along the edge of a fence. The lady of the household saw Nehyōe and was convinced he was the manifestation of a deity. Her husband, Saemon, worshiped Nehyōe as Daikokuten, the god of good fortune, and was blessed with greater wealth. A full summer passed, and Nehyōe tried desperately to find a bird to fly him back to the capital. Alas, he could not, and he lost hope of ever returning, resigning himself to passing the rest of his days far from home. Local mice tried to cheer him up with a jubilant celebration. One night Saemon’s wife received a message in a dream to send Nehyōe home in a boat. Ecstatic, the mouse finally made it back to the capital, and he immediately ran to Tōji Temple to see his wife and children. Reunited, Nehyōe and his family visited Saemon, bringing him treasures to thank him for his kindness. Blessed by good fortune, Nehyōe’s and Saemon’s families continued to prosper for many years.