The play begins on the day of the mekari ritual at Hayatomo Shrine. During the ritual, which is held every year on the last day of the year at the hour of the tiger (around 4am), thanks to the blessing of a guardian deity protecting the land, the waves recede, and the priests cut wakame (seaweed) from the bottom of the water and offer it to the god. Night approaches as the Shrine Priest and his Assistants prepare for the ritual, and an old Fisherman and Fisherwoman appear. The Fisherman begins telling a story: long ago the hunter Yamasachi and Toyotama, the Princess of the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the ocean, got engaged. As a consequence, the lands and the seas ceased to be separated. However, though he was prohibited to do so, Yamasachi saw Princess Toyotama give birth. Toyotama left her child, and return to the Dragon Palace, and the path connecting land and see was closed. On the day of the mekari ritual, the path opens once again. Finally, the old Fisherman and the Fisherwoman reveal to be a Dragon God and a Celestial Maiden. The Fisherman vanishes in the waves, while the Fisherwoman disappears in the clouds.
The Spirit of Seaweed (or, sometimes, the Spirit of Fish) appears and tells the story of Hayatomo Shrine and of the mekari ritual.
As the time of the ritual approaches, a Celestial Maiden appears and dances. Soon, a Dragon God appears from between the waves. He clears the tide, splitting the sea in two and, opening up a path in the ocean. The Priest holds a torch and descends to the bottom of the sea, where he cuts seaweed with a sickle. Soon the tide rises again. The Dragon God and the Celestial Maiden return to the Dragon Palace.
The play is a form of re-enactment of the mekari ritual of the Hayatomo Shrine. The Priest’s gestures demonstrate how the ritual must have been enacted in the ancient days. The story symbolizes how for the ancient people there was no separation between the land and the sea, the human world, and that of the gods. If humans offer wakame (seaweed) to the gods, they will reward them with an abundant crop. The scene of Hayatomo Bay where plovers and seagulls fly overhead, is also depicted, conveying the feelings of people living on the sea toward nature.
In the second half, the Celestial Maiden and the Dragon God appear. The mekari ritual is a way of expressing gratitude to the gods for their blessings and showing the connection between the three worlds. After the dance of the Spirit of Seaweed and the elegant dance of the Celestial Maiden, the Dragon God splits the sea to reveal the seafloor, the priest takes a sickle in his hand and reaps the wakame.
The appearance of the Spirit of Seaweed, the Celestial Madien, the Dragon God and the Priest unfold one after the other, symbolizing the connection of the three worlds and the celebration of the coming New Year.
Currently, the mekari ritual is held on New Year's Day of the lunar calendar at the Mekari Shrine in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Another, secret ritual is said to be held at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture.