A Shinto priest (waki), serving at Muro no Myōjin in Banshū Province (now Hyōgo Prefecture) decides to take his servant (waki-tsure) and go on a pilgrimage to Kamo Shrine in Kyoto. At Kamo Shrine, a few local women (shite and tsure of act one) come to draw some pure water from the shrine's Mitarashi River. The priest asks one of them about the altar by the river, which has a white-feathered arrow sticking out of it. The woman replies that the arrow is the actual object of veneration of Kamo Shrine and tells the legend of the shrine's deity.
Once upon a time in Kamo Village lived a lady called Hada no Ujinyo, who would come to the river every day to draw water and offer it to the shrine's deity. One day, the lady noticed a white-feathered arrow floating down from the upper reaches of the river, so she scooped it up and took it home. Soon after that, the lady became pregnant and had a baby boy. When people asked who the boy's father was, the baby boy pointed at the arrow. At that moment, the arrow transformed into a thunderbolt and flew to heaven. The boy became the deity Wake-ikazuchi.
His mother turned into a deity too, and since then the three deities have been worshipped at the three sanctuaries of Kamo Shrine.
After telling the story, the women sing about Kibune, Ooi and Tonase Rivers, and praise the beauty of the pure stream while scooping water. They ask the priest to show consideration for the deity's heart, and after hinting that they are, in fact, the incarnations of the deities, disappear without a trace.
A lower rank deity (ai), who is a servant of the deity of Kamo Shrine, appears and starts to dance. Lured in by the dance, the deity Mioya (tsure of act two) appears to perform her dance in turn. Eventually, the ground starts shaking and the deity Wake-ikazuchi (shite of the second act) emerges. The deity demonstrates his might and magnificence, blasting thunder all around, and promises to supply an abundant harvest and protect the land from evil. Finally, the deity Mioya flies back to Tadasu Grove and Wake-ikazuchi returns to heaven.
The Kamo Shrine consists of Kami-Gamo Shrine (Kamo Wake-ikazuchi Shrine) and Shimo-Gamo Shrine (Kamo Mioya Shrine), whose guardian deities have been venerated in the capital since ancient times. It is also famous for the Aoi Festival. Mitarashi River and Tadasu Grove, where the Noh play is set, are located in the grounds of Shimo-Gamo Shrine.
The highlight of the first act is the scene where all women praise the rivers of Kyoto in their song while scooping water.
Their descriptions are of Kibune River with its pearl-like stream, Ooi River with its crimson maple trees, Kiyotaki River with its current, as white as snow, thus contrasting white and red to create a vivid image. The beautiful description of the seasons changing from summer to autumn creates an impression of purity and sanctity. The clear water of the river is also a symbol of the women's pure hearts. Scooping water from the river is a metaphor for drawing directly from the deity's heart.
A particularly interesting scene in the second act is the gracious dance of the deity Mioya that contrasts with the energetic movements of Wake-ikazuchi. The deity's thunders bring rain, which is crucial for an abundant harvest. The rumbling of the deity's thunder is expressed by the onomatopoeic chant "horo-horo, todoro-todoro" sung in a captivating rhythm.