Once upon a time, at the foot of Mount Ikoma in the province of Nara, there lived a huntsman with his wife and a son. One day, while hunting deep in the mountains, he happened to find a baby girl deserted on the roadside. Her gorgeous clothes suggested that she was of noble birth. Taking pity he brought her home, and as they had no daughter, he and his wife adopted her into their family, calling her Sugaru-Otome of Kasugano after the name of the place where she had been found. Their son Iwatari was then five years of age.
Sugaru-Otome grew to be a rare beauty. When she was eight, her foster parents, seriously concerned about her future, decided to dedicate her to the Kagutsuchi Shrine as a virgin in life-long service to the DragonGod. However her foster brother Iwatari was reluctant to part with her, because he loved her beyond brotherly affection.
Admired as a symbol of beauty, authority, and power by large number of people of the country, the Dragon God was enshrined in the Kagutsuchi Shrine. In its House of Dancing Maidens, good-looking young girls were widely invited and trained. Dancing maidens were virgins in life-long service to the God by dancing and they were allowed to live noble lives regardless of their origins. For these reasons, people were most proud of having a daughter who entered the House of Dancing Maidens, and it was a highest honor.
Scene 1. The Eve of the Festival. Front garden of the Kagutsuchi Shrine.
Sugaru-Otome was then sixteen years of age, and for her beauty and skill in dancing had been chosen as the dancing maiden to be dedicated to the Dragon God.
On the eve before the dedication ceremony, she was to offer Sake to the God. To see the widely renowned maiden, there gathered a host of people from the surrounding areas, among whom was Iwatari, now grown into a handsome young man. He came all the way from Mount Ikoma to dedicate a beautiful magnolia blossom to Sugaru-Otome.
Various dances were performed one after another. Sugaru-Otome left to conduct the ceremony of offering Sake to the Dragon God. In unrestrained love for Sugaru-Otome, Iwatari ran into the Inner Shrine to follow her.
Scene 2. Holy Place where dragons land.
At daybreak, deep in a secluded forest, in the Holy Place to meet dragons, Sugaru-Otome offered Sake to the Dragon God.
In the middle of the quiet solemn ceremony, suddenly, with a clap of thunder, the strangest thing happened. The Dragon God appeared and gave Sugaru-Otome a token of love.
The Black Dragon, who had believed that she could certainly become the Dragon Queen, tried to get the token back, but the token was put in the hands of Sugaru-Otome in the end.
Scene 3. Sugaru-Otome becomes a Female Dragon. Inner shrine of Kagutsuchi.
Given the token of love, Sugaru-Otome walked towards the pool of the water-fall to perform the rite of purification by water. Eager to have one more look at his beloved, Iwatari had stolen into the inner shrine but had fallen asleep. Feeling someone coming, he awoke to find Sugaru-Otome appearing. He eagerly approached and offered her a magnolia blossom, and sought to remind the surprised maiden of the old days when they used to play together like brother and sister. Recognizing him to be her dear foster brother, she felt a new affection for him, stronger than the old, arising in her heart. Then suddenly, with a terrific peal of thunder and lightning, the Dragon God and his servant appeared, indignant and carried her off to heaven. Iwatari was left alone, and fell in a deep swoon.
Sugaru-Otome becomes the Dragon Queen. In the depths of the mountain where dragons live.
Sugaru-Otome was invited into the heart of the misty mountain where the Dragon God lived. There she saw divine and mystical world of dragons. The maiden was crowned the Dragon Queen, and danced a fierce, passionate pas de deux with the Dragon God as a pledge of her love for him. When the dance was over, the Black Dragon, who could not give up the position of the Dragon Queen appeared. She tried to attract the Dragon God to win his heart back, but she was rejected and driven away.
Sugaru-Otome chanced upon a white blossom. It was the same magnolia blossom which Iwatari had once offered her. Snatching it up she pressed it against her bosom, and driven by her inconsolable sorrow danced wildly trying to forget her troubles.
The Black Dragon, who looked furtively at the scene, blamed Sugaru-Otome that her sorrow was a betrayal of the Dragon God’s love, and broke the token of love which had been given to Sugaru-Otome by the Dragon God. For Sugaru-Otome, the token of love was as important as a heart to live in the world of dragons. As a result of its breakage, she felt pain and ran around trying to escape, and finally threw herself into the pool of the waterfall. The Dragon God rushed to the site. In a rage at the selfish treatment of the Black Dragon, the Dragon God killed her as a punishment at the end of flight. The burning grief of the Dragon God at the loss of Sugaru-Otome set fire and the whole mountain became ablaze in an instance.
Reunion of Sugaru-Otome and Iwatari. Inner shrine of Kagutsuchi.
By the pool of the waterfall, Sugaru-Otome is dead in the arms of Iwatari. When Iwatari decided to kill himself in despair, the Dragon God appeared. Realizing how profoundly Sugaru-Otome and Itawatari loved each other, the Dragon God breathed upon Sugaru-Otome with love and compassion. Then, miraculously, she came back to life again. In joy of reunion, Sugaru-Otome and Iwatari pledged their true love.