This extremely large hanging scroll depicts one of the so-called Four Gentlemen of the Confucian Scholar (the other three are bamboo, orchid, and chrysanthemum) that were favorite subjects of both Chinese and Japanese literati painters. The subjects were brushed in ink, and were popular because they contained many of the brushstrokes used for calligraphy by the literati. Each also had associations that were prized by the literati. The plum was admired for courage, because it dared to put forth its blossoms before the leaves showed themselves, blooming at New Years time and in early spring when it was still cold. It was also called one of the Three Winter Friends (along with the pine and bamboo), a New Years motif.