This artwork was inspired by a waka by the Heian period poetess Ise which was published in the Kokinshu (c. 920). The Kokinshu was the first major anthology of Japanese poetry in Japanese in contrast to the previous Manyoshu which celebrated the Japanese fascination with the Chinese language and Chinese poetry.
The Kokinshu was compiled around 905-920 AD. The Heian period was from 794-1185 AD. To give some perspective, Sei Shonagon lived c. 966-1017 and Lady Murasaki c. 978-1014.
For this translation we rely on the excellent book Kokinshu: A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern by Laurel Rasplica Rodd et al p. 273
Ise had had a romance with Nakahira, but they had become estranged. She sent this poem to tell him that she was going to the house of her father, the Governor of Yamato.
miwa no yama
ika ni machimimu
toshi fu tomo
tazunuru hito mo
araji to omoeba
how it awaits you –
how it longs for your coming –
Miwa Mountain for
it knows there will be no
visitors though long years pass
At the time the Kokinshu was being compiled, hiragana was being used though kanji would be at times also used to write grammatical elements. Further, words themselves had creative spellings. Today we call this writing hentaigana.
Somes examples of hentaigana from the poem are omoeba which today is written 思えば. In this poem, it is written 於毛へ盤. Another example is the word “person” today is written 人 (hito) though in this poem, it is written 悲と. And, finally, beginning Japanese students know that the kanji for “mountain” is 山 (yama), but here it is written や万. Strange, right? Hence the name hentai (strange) gana (syllabary).
The same poem in modern Japanese would be written more like:
This is an original, hand-brushed work by Master Calligrapher Eri Takase. The art is on handmade Western Style paper and handmade Japanese papers. The artwork arrives ready to frame.