The piece is a setting of a poem by the Japanese Emporer Koko, from the 9th century. The translation by Kenneth Rexroth, is as follows:
When I went out in the Spring fields to pick the young greens for you, the snow fell on my sleeves
There are treble, tenor, and baritone parts, none of which use extreme ranges. Much of the piece does not have a precise beat, with players asked to repeat material over a specified period.