SCENE I. 1204, at Shuzenji temple. In mask-maker Yashao’s house. The two daughters of the master, Katsura and Kaede talk. The younger sister, Kaede, is married to the craftsman Haruhiko, but Katsura is still single. Former shogun Yoriie comes to collect the mask he had commissioned, but is angered by Yashao’s response that he is unable to craft a satisfactory mask. Katsura jumps into the scene and hands a completed mask to the shogun. Yashao says that “no matter how many times I remake that mask, I still see the shadow of death in it”. However, Yoriie is satisfied with it, and also desires to take Katsura back with him, and she wishes the same so they leave the house together. Yashao regrets that he presented an unsatisfactory mask, calling it a shame for generations to come. Kaede convinces her father that “if you create one masterpiece during your lifetime, you are considered a master”.
SCENE II. Near Katsura-gawa river. Yoriie and Katsura declare their love for each other. Yoriie’s former servant Yukichika approaches Yoriie in an assassination attempt. Haruhiko arrives on the scene and tries to inform Yoriie’s servants of the conspiracy, but he gets surrounded by Yukichika’s servants.
SCENE III. At Yashao’s house. Haruhiko returns home safely and informs them of Yukichika’s conspiracy. But Yashao says that this has nothing to do with commoners like him. Kaede is worried about her sister’s safety. Katsura makes an appearance. She was injured from the fight she had against the assassin while she wore Yoriie’s mask. The priest of Shuzenji informs them of Yoriie’s death. Yashao realizes the reason for the mask’s shadow of death and is convinced by it. Weakened, Katsura crawls to her father’s side after being told that he wants to draw the expression of a dying young woman.