The original tale was an unproduced script called Asagao ("Morning glory") written by Chikamatsu Tokusô circa 1804-06.
Later illustrated books and plays followed until Keisei tsukushi no tsumagoto ("A courtesan playing the Tsukushi koto") was
produced in 1814. The "Tsukushi" of the title refers to the former province now called Kyûshû, and it may also pun on tsukushi or monozukushi, a literary technique used in Edo-period drama to weave a catalog of related things into the dialog. A later
and now better known version is called Shô utsushi Asagao nikki ("Recreating the true diary of morning glory": ) —
also written by Chikamatsu Tokusô (for the puppet theater in 1832).
The story is set in motion in the scene depicted in Sadayoshi's print, when Asojirô meets Akizuki Miyuki along the Uji River, a popular site
for viewing and hunting fireflies during the evening cool of the summer months. They quickly fall in love, and he writes her a poem on a fan about a
morning glory (asagao). Later, when they must part, she returns the fan as a keepsake. Asojirô then takes a new name, Komazawa Jirozaemon,
after he is adopted by a wealthy family serving the same daimyô (lit., "great name": 大名) as the lord of Miyuki's family. Confusion ensues when he, as Jirozaemon,
asks Miyuki's father for her hand in marriage. Mistakenly thinking her father will force her to marry a "stranger," Miyuki falls into
despair and runs away.
Months pass and Miyuki, now a beggar blind from tears and grief, barely survives by playing the koto. Fondly remembering the poem, she calls herself Asagao.
Asojirô coincidentally stops by an inn and finds the fan poem he wrote for Miyuki. When he learns that it belongs to "Asagao," he
realizes she must be Miyuki. When Asojirô departs on his lord's business, he leaves Miyuki some money, medicine to restore her sight, and the keepsake
fan upon which he has added his explanation for changing his name. After Miyuki learns the full story, she rushes after him, but there is a terrible storm and she
is unable to overtake her lover. Having lost Asojirô a second time, she is about to drown herself when she is stopped by one of her father’s retainers
who has been continuously searching for her. She finally takes the medicine, whereupon her sight and former beauty are restored.
Shigeharu depicts the lovers' first encounter when nature conspires to bring the two together. A gust of wind blows off Miyuki's head scarf and lifts
it toward Asojirô's boat. When he returns her head covering, they instantly fall in love. Miyuki is dressed in a furisode (a long "swinging"
sleeve kimono: 振袖) appropriate for a young unmarried woman. As their small sightseeing boats move abreast, he holds the ôgi (folding fan: 扇) that he will later inscribe with his love poem [here, a previous owner has brushed in a poem!].
References: IKBYS-II, no. 158; NKE, p. 603