Semimaru was a blind poet and musician of the 10th century who was banished to a small cottage between Kyoto and Lake Biwa. Though his life story has several versions–in some he’s a courtier, in others a prince–Yoshitoshi does not indicate a particular telling of Semimaru’s life in this print. Instead, Yoshitoshi offers a portrait of a musician absorbed in his art. Semimaru strums his biwa (lute) with a plectrum, head cocked in concentration. The moonlight reveals his thinning hair and the dilapidated state of his cottage, but these things do not concern him. As the pampas grass rustles beyond the veranda, he is lost in his song. Another reference to Semimaru can be found in the print “Suzaku Gate Moon: Hakuga Sanmi,” where his musical pupil Minamoto no Hiromasa plays the flute by moonlight.