Accompanied by her attendant (waki), a lady/wife of Saemon (tsure), working as a nursemaid at a certain family, returns to Kusaka in Settsu Province (present day Higashi-Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture), where she once lived. The purpose of her journey is to find her husband Saemon (shite), with whom she parted ways because of poverty. The attendant looks for him, but the husband is not to be seen around the old house. The lady is downhearted, and decides to stay for a while in order to look for her spouse. Then, a local person (ai) comes and tells her that the marketplace is opening by the shore and that there is a talented man selling reed grass.
The reed grass seller is called by the local man and through poems he hints at his present circumstances, claiming that poverty is his karma from a previous life. Then, he skilfully asks the attendant to buy some reeds while giving an amusing talk about how the names of the same thing can change depending on the place.
The lady's attendant asks of the origin of the name Mitsu Harbor and the reed seller tells him that the place once flourished as the site of the palace built by Emperor Nintoku. His narrative continues to a song and dance about the various words and images related to the word ‘kasa’ or straw hat
The lady, who watched the whole performance from her palanquin, decides to buy some reeds and tells the man to come closer and realizes that he is her husband. The reed seller also notices his wife, but ashamed to stand in front of her in such a miserable state, he hides. The woman goes closer to talk to the man and he dedicates his sincere feelings to her with a poem and she also replies to him with a poem to convey her sympathy. The husband who is now beside himself with happiness, praises the virtue of poetry that reunited them and dances with joy. In the end, they set out on a journey back to the capital together.
This Noh play is based on the Reed Mower Myth of the Tales of Yamato, or the Tales of Times Now Past. However, unlike the original story, the couple reunite and restore their bond in noh. The husband is depicted as a person who has an elegant soul despite leading a meagre life selling reeds.
The man displays his literary talent while he talks about the famed reeds of Naniwa which often appear in classical poetry and other types of plants while exhibiting play of words. Then, after an explanation about the Grand Harbor of Mitsu and the scene depicting the fishermen pulling the nets, the man engages in a lyrical chant of the various words with the sound ‘kasa’ in Japanese. A ‘kasa’ is usually a straw hat that is used as a portable protection from the rain or sun, but the lyrics plays with homophones in Japanese. The ‘kasa’ which the man had been using for disguise becomes an important prop in this scene. Please observe how the actor handles his 'kasa'. Towards the climax, this play features interesting musical expressions such as the rhythmic sounds and lyrics expressing the sound of the reeds rustling in the wind.
The scene which the couple exchange poetryafter the Reed Seller notices his wife and hides is especially emotional. Also, the ‘hashigakari’ bridgeway unique to noh theatre is used effectively to set the scene.
The latter half of the play displays a joyful and happy feeling. The husband praises the virtue of poetry that tied the couple together once again, singing and dancing, dressed up in a costume suitable for his status now. The long dance part accompanied by instrumental music calle ‘otoko-mai’ expresses his joy and the confidence he restored in himself.