Label Text: This okimono depicts the climactic scene of the tale of Hoichi-the-Earless. The standing figure is a ghost, traditionally shown as a legless figure surrounded by flames. The sword and bent, linen hat further identify the ghost as a samurai. The seated figure is Hoichi, a blind priest famous for his recitation of epic stories.
Hoichi obliges a company of strangers with several nights of storytelling. Being blind, he is initially unaware that the attentive audience are ghosts, who will surely kill him after the final night of entertainment. Near the end of the tale, the priest's body is inscribed with sacred texts to render him invisible to spirits.
The samurai ghost returns to lead Hoichi to the cemetery, but he finds no more of the priest than two ears—which the scribe had forgotten to cover in text. The ghost tears off the ears to deliver to his ghostly lord. Henceforth, the blind priest was known as Hoichi-the-Earless.