Argument

Act 1

With the aid of a magic jewel which Kolha carries in her mouth, Ackeimon plans to win to himself the love that Kuzunoha bears Yasuna. He has forged a charmed arrow and with his huntsmen pursues the fox into the Moors of Abeno, Yasuna's domain, wounds her there and snatches away the jewel. He is about to dispatch Kolha when Yasuna enters, forbids the desecration of Kuzunoha's birthday, puts Ackeimon to flight and gives Kolha back the stone. In pity, he bids the fox seek by good deeds and through Buddha's mercy for release from the misery of fox-life and for higher incarnation. Kolha disappears as Kuzunoha enters with her damsels. During the birthday merriment, Yasuna's castle is seen in flames and Ackeimon and his host burst in, wound and overpower Yasuna, and carry off Kuzunoha to the wizard's castle, leaving her sleeve in Yasuna's grasp.

Act 2

In the forest on the edge of rocks overlooking a lake, fox maidens dance in the moonlight until Kolha, their queen, wakes. Kolha implores the moon to aid her take Kuzunoha's form, that she may save her benefactor, Yasuna, wandering crazed by grief and wounds. Yasuna enters, still grasping Kuzunoha's torn sleeve, and believing he has found her, is guided by Kolha toward a retreat in the mountains. Upon the approach of Ackeimon and his followers, who roam the forest gathering herbs for a lovephiltre for their captive, Kolha returns and with her maidens makes a pretence of surrender. The wizard and his train are beguiled by flattery and wine, and in pursuit of their charmers are led to the edge of the precipice whence they fall into the lake.

Act 3

Kolha is seated before the dwelling which she and the fugitive Yasuna inhabit in the hills near a shrine of Kannon, and sings to ther infant child. A band of pilgrims enter and ask alms, which kolha gives. Touched by their mournful song, she asks their story, and learns they are retainers of Kuzunoha on their way to the shrine, the last of thirty-three where they have prayed the god to restore Yasuna. Despairing of Kannon's mercy, Kuzunoha waits at the shrine resolved to take the veil. Kolha bids the pilgrims hope again, and when they go and Yasuna enters, full of plans for a happy day in the woods, she meets him in a mood he cannnot understand, saying a voice once bid her seek higher incarnation by goodly deeds and through Buddha's mercy. Tearing off her sleeve, she begs him take it as a talisman to the maiden at the shrine. Struck by her solemn words, he starts reluctantly upon her merciful commission. With a prayer to her child, Kolha gives the baby her magic stone and prepares to leave for him a written messege. Shorn of her poower, she begins to resume the fox's shape. Her hands turn to paws, and she must take the pen in her mouth to complete the writing. A fox again, she leaps through a window into the forest as the pilgrims enter with a song of thanksgiving, followed by Yasuna and Kuzunoha intent to know their marvellous benefactor. They read her message on the wall. Yasuna learns she was the fairly fox he once befriended and falls on his knees in prayer, while Kuzunoha takes the child into her arms with an answering cry of love.