A rough estimate of more than one hundred handscrolls on the subject of the Karmic Origins of the Great Bodhisattva Hachiman must have existed throughout the Japanese islands.
While earlier versions must have existed, the first extant Hachiman handscroll dates to 1322, the second known extant version of 1389 is owned by the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and is the oldest scroll included in this project.
The fifteenth century saw a wide regional distribution and different local interpretations of the subject matter. Included in this project are two very similar versions, which originate from Awajishima Island located south of present-day Kōbe City. The 1433 version belongs to the Yura Minato Shrine, and the ex-Hamatenjingū scroll dating to 1527 resides today in the Umi-Mori Art Museum, Hiroshima. Two related, yet very differently composed scroll versions were created in Ube City in present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture. They include the scrolls at the Tsuneishi Hachiman Shrine dated to 1478, and the Kotozaki Hachiman Shrine (1491).
A rather unique interpretation of the text and subject matter is the 1672 set of two scrolls belonging to the Hakozaki Hachiman Shrine in present-day Fukuoka City.
The chronologically last scroll included in this project is the mid-eighteenth to nineteenth-century version stored at the National Library in Berlin. This work is an adaptation of the famous 1433 set of two scrolls dedicated to the Konda Hachiman Shrine in Habikino City by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshinori (r. 1429–1441).
The San Francisco version, the Yura Minato Shrine version and the ex-Hamatenjingū version are each calligraphed with the rather rare script combination of Chinese characters and the so-called katakana syllabary. Buddhist priests of temples might have calligraphed these scrolls on behalf of the donors, which were priests as well; they were used to recite Buddhist scriptures with reading aids in katakana script. In fact, the Hachiman Gudōkun was written with the same script combination, too. The versions of the Tsuneishi Hachiman Shrine, the Kotozaki Hachiman Shrine, the Hakozaki Hachiman Shrine and the Berlin National Library are written with Chinese characters and hiragana syllabary, a combination, which was most common in Japanese pictorial narratives since the twelfth century.
The Hachiman scrolls' texts of this project include comparatively many Chinese characters due to their production in temple-shrine complexes, and their aim to be donated to shrines.