Sugimoto the Immortal (不死身の杉元 Fujimi no Sugimoto) is the 1st chapter of the Golden Kamuy manga.
The story starts off in the year Meiji 37 at 203 Hill, where the Japanese army is engaging in combat against the Russian forces. Saichi Sugimoto and his platoon are preparing to charge against the enemy troops. In the midst of the rush, many Japanese soldiers are killed and Sugimoto is shot in the neck. However, he doesn’t let that stop him and continues charging towards the enemy and manages to courageously fight against several of the Russian soldiers.
The scene then shifts to a river somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Hokkaido in which Sugimoto is seen during peaceful time prospecting for gold. Suddenly a middle-aged man drinking alcohol approaches him and asks him how his luck is. Sugimoto replies that he has had none and is frustated since he needs the money. The two then talk about Sugimoto’s time in the military and his reputation as “Sugimoto the Immortal”.
The old man then tells Sugimoto about the Ainu gold and how they came to be stolen by a certain man, which came out to 20 kan (75 kg). That much money is easily worth 800,000 yen which would come to 8 million yen by modern value. The man hides the gold somewhere in Hokkaido but is then caught and sentenced to death in Abashiri Prison. As it would be difficult to get the gold outside to his friends, the man tattooed a coded location into several of the prisoners that had spent so much time suffering together. The prisoners were then transported to another location by several government soldiers, but they managed to kill them and ran away into the woods.
The drunken man then falls asleep claiming not to know what happened to the prisoners or the gold, or even where he heard it from. Sugimoto then begins to reminisce about his time with his best friend Toraji. Toraji is concerned about his wife Umeko and their child. He wants to help cure Umeko’s poor eyesights and asks Sugimoto to help. All of a sudden, Sugimoto sees that Toraji has become dismembered and wakes up from the nightmare only to see the drunken man pointing his gun at him.
The drunken man realizes that he has revealed something that he should not have said, and he and Sugimoto gets into a fight. The drunken man then runs away and Sugimoto chases after him only to find him buried dead in snow. Sugimoto pulls his body out to find that his guts had been eaten out by a brown bear along with a footprint nearby. As he examines the corpse, he finds that the drunken man is one of the prisoners from the story.
As Sugimoto begins to carry the body, he spots a baby bear in a tree followed by a roar from the mother bear. He tries to fight the bear but is quickly knocked down. Before the bear could do anything else, an arrow is shot at it, and Sugimoto turns to see that it is a young girl armed with a bow. The girl is able to kill the bear due to the poison infused in her arrows, but then they discover that it was not the mother bear who killed the man, but another brown bear. Sugimoto then tells the girl about the Ainu gold, and she believes him as her father is one of the Ainu that was killed in the story. Upon seeing the tattoo, the girl realizes that the man had no intention of sharing the gold, as the tattoo is wrapped around the bodies of the prisoner and it meant that they had to be killed and skinned to get the full map.
Before Sugimoto could do anything else, the girl suggests that they move and prepare for the other brown bear to make its move.