A smoking pipe lies beside a tobacco pouch decorated with a portrait of the actor Nakamura Utaemon III. He is playing the role of Mino no Shokuro in the play Keisei Omonguchi (The Great Gate of the Licensed Quarters), performed at the Kado theatre in Osaka, in January 1823.
The two poems are by Shikan and Sanko, who were both disciples of Nakamura Utaemon III. It has been suggested by the academic Mr Susumu Matsudaira (d. 2000) in a letter that accompanies the print, that when Utaemon played this role, a fan might have commissioned this surimono, asking the two actors to compose poems and Hokushu the portrait.
The two poems above have been translated by Roger Keyes in a hand-written letter which also accompanies this print:
Iroiro ni Kasumi aredomo asa hinode
Somehow even through the mist the sun rises --- by Shikan (Nakamura Utaemon IV)
Jubun ni asobite kaeru kocho kana
The butterfly plays awhile and then returns --- by Sanko (Tomijuro II)