Hitomaro (dates unknown), court poet in the late Asuka period, is best remembered for his elegies for royalty. A significant figure in Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) and Sanjurokkasen (Thirty-Six Poetry Immortals), he is praised Waka Nisei (Two Greatest Poetry Sages) along with Yamabe no Akihito.
A group of fishermen laboriously dragging a net from the ocean towards the hill. Next to them is a campfire where smoke is seen soaring to the gloomy sky. A minute figure sitting in the distant hut is believed to be the poet, pondering the dramatic moment. Scholar Matthi Forrer noted that Hokusai depicted such “dragging” motion to allude to “ashihiki” in the first line of the poem. The elongation and movement of the net and the smoke also characterized the pheasant’s tail described by the poet.
The poem reads:
Ashibiki no yamadori no o no shidari-o no naganagashi yo o hitori kamo nemu
Must I sleep alone through the long autumn nights, long like the dragging tail of the mountain pheasant