Illustrated in Sekien Toriyama's Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki
, this infant
which licks the oil from an andon
lamp is accompanied with the following explanation:
近江国 （あふみのくに） 大津の八町に
玉のごとくの火飛行 （ひぎやう） する事あり。
In the eighth town of Ōtsu in Ōmi ("Afumi") Province there exists a flying ball-like fire.
The natives say that long ago in the village of Shiga there was a person who stole oil, and every night he stole the oil from the
Jizō of the Ōtsu crossroads, but when this person died his soul became a flame and even now they grow accustomed to this errant fire.
If it is so then the baby which licks the oil is this person's rebirth. 1
Sekien seems to have based this image on a story from the Shokoku Rijin Dan, published in 1746, in which an oil merchant who steals
oil from the Jizō statue at the Ōtsu crossroads is punished by being transformed posthumously into a ghostly flame.2
1. Toriyama p. 94.
2. Kaii Yōkai Denshō Database: Konpaku En