Fragments of very old handscrolls, particularly those that reflected the poetic sentiments of aristocrats from Japan's classical past, became popular for display in tea ceremonies. This fragment represents two imaginary portraits of famous poets of the eighth century, as if they are engaged in a poetry competition.The figure on the right, dressed in black, is O_tomo Yakamochi (ca. 718-ca. 785), a military general and one of the compilers of Japan's first great poetry anthology, the Man'yo_shu_. Yamabe Akahito (700-36), on the left, was a courtier who composed much of his poetry while traveling with Emperor Shomu. Here, included with the portraits are verses by each poets on the theme of spring :
As tides wash upon the shore of Wakanoura,
crying cranes descend into the new reeds.
Even though it is clear on distant Mt. Makimuku,
Snow is still falling on the pine trees.