Sakai Hoshu was a pupil of Hoitsu. The subject of this painting is taken from the No play Haku Rakuten, which describes a legendary episode in the life of the Tang-dynasty Chinese poet Bo Juyi (722-847, usually called Haku Rakuten in Japanese), whose verses had an immense influence on early Japanese literature. An apocryphal tradition relates that Haku Rakuten was sent to Japan by the Emperor of China to 'subdue' Japan with his art. In the No play, Haku arrives at the coast of Bizen Province where he meets two Japanese fishermen, one of whom is in reality the God of Japanese poetry, Sumiyoshi Myojin. In the second scene Sumiyoshi Myojin reveals his identity and summons the other Gods. In the ensuing dance-scene, the wind from the gods' sleeves blows the foreign poet back to China. [Reference: Arthur Waley, The No Plays of Japan (London 1921), pp. 248-57]
The design has its ultimate origins in two screens by Ogata Korin (1658-1716), one of them in the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, Tokyo. It was later reproduced in Korin Hyakuzu, a woodblock-printed book published in 1815 and 1826 during the early nineteenth-century revival of his style. There is also a painting by Hoitsu depicting the same scene.