During the Buddhist summer seclusion period (from the 16th day of the fourth until the 15th day of the seventh lunar month), two priests (waki and waki-tsure) practicing asceticism in Naruto (the strait between Shikoku and Awaji Island), Awa Province (now Tokushima Pref.), are conducting memorial services for the repose of the deceased members of the Heike clan every night. Tonight, as they are reading sutras, a fishing boat with a lit torch on it pulls up near them. In the boat, there are an old fisherman (shite in act one) and a woman (tsure in act one).
After intently listening to the priests' sutra, the two start narrating the story of the last days of Taira-no-Michimori's wife, Lady Kozaishō. Michimori was killed in the battle of Ichi-no-tani. Having lost the one person she could rely on, Lady Kozaishō broke free from her nursemaid's embrace and threw herself into the sea. After narrating the sad story, the woman on the boat also jumps and disappears into the sea, followed by the old man.
A local man (ai) comes to listen to the priests' chant. Before leaving, he recounts the full story of Michimori and his wife, Lady Kozaishō. As the priests resume their prayers, the spirits of Michimori and Lady Kozaishō appear above the sea. They describe their last moments in the camp on the eve of the battle of Ichi-no-tani. They were reluctant to part, but Michimori had to go and fight. Michimori reenacts his last moments and asks the priests to pray for his repose. Husband and wife express their gratitude for being able to attain Buddhahood through the sutras before disappearing back into the sea.
This play is based on the story of Taira-no-Michimori and Lady Kozaishō in "The Tale of the Heike" and "Genpei-jōsuiki". The story depicts a married couple unable to be together, as they are torn apart by war.
In the first half of the play, a prop representing a boat is placed onstage. The priests are standing on the shore, surrounded by the sea in the Naruto Strait.
Apart from providing light for the priests to read sutras at night, the torch on the boat also represents the light of salvation that leads the spirits of Michimori and Lady Kozaishō to Buddhahood. Try to imagine the scene in the Naruto Strait, where the torch of the fishing boat gently illuminates the shore in the darkness.
The type of play featuring the spirit of a warrior appears and reenacts a battle scene is called "shura-mono". The highlights of the second act are the scene called ‘kakeri’, in which the spirit of Michimori shows off his valour as he moves energetically to the accompaniment of the flute, ‘ko-tsuzumi’ and ‘oo-tsuzumi’ drums,
as well as the scene in which he engages the enemy in combat and eventually meets his end. The actual theme of "Michimori" is the sincere love between husband and wife. The play focuses on the bitter end of Lady Kozaishō and her final meeting with Michimori on the eve of the battle. While most "shura-mono" plays focus only on the warrior's performance in battle, this one is unique in that it focuses on the love between a couple who care for each other.