This late Muromachi-period scroll is closely related to an example in the Keio University Library, Tokyo (Otogi zoshi, Nihon no koten, vol. 13 [Tokyo: Shueisha, 1980], pl. 7). The image of a crow seated on the gate of a Shinto shrine appears in both versions. In this story a sparrow couple has lost their baby to a snake. Various birds send them poems as consolation. The sparrows respond with poems of their own. In the end they take the tonsure and gain enlightenment.
This emaki (illustrated narrative handscroll) belongs to a genre of literature known as otogi zoshi (tales told by a companion), amusing short stories that were written for the unsophisticated warrior class in the sixteenth century and continued to flourish into the early eighteenth century. The authors of these simple, didactic stories remain anonymous, although many are assumed to have been court nobles and Buddhist monks.