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In Hokkaido, the far northern lands of Japan, Sugimoto survived the Russo-Japanese war of the Meiji era. Nicknamed "Sugimoto the Immortal" during the war, he now seeks the riches promised by the gold rush in hopes of saving the widowed wife of his now deceased comrade from the war. During his hunt of gold, he finds hints of a hidden stash of gold by corrupt criminals. Partnering with an Ainu girl that saves his life from the harsh climates of the north, they venture into a survival adventure to race against the criminals that seek the hidden stash.
Saichi Sugimoto (杉元佐一, Sugimoto Saichi) is the main protagonist of Golden Kamuy and a war veteran, known as Sugimoto the Immortal (不死身の杉元, Fujimi no Sugimoto).
Saichi Sugimoto joined the 1st Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, where he was a member of the White Sash Brigade, that went on at least one night assault. He was one of the few survivors of the platoon and was resting at Port Arthur when Genjirou Tanigaki approached him. Sugimoto asked Tanigaki for some food, and noticed his Akita dialect, which tipped Tanigaki off to the whereabouts of Kenkichi Aoyama.
Later, he along with his division, the 7th, the 9th, and the 11th division staged an assault on 203 Hill. During the battle, a Russian grenade was thrown at the Japanese force, but he was able to pick it up and throw it back to the other side where it exploded in a trench, killing several Russian soldiers.
When Toraji died, Sugimoto carried his body to a sledge near Mukden so that his wounds could be treated. However, when the 7th Division arrived with a couple of woundedsoldiers that needed medical attention, Sugimoto took Toraji's body off of the sledge, telling them that they could use it and that Toraji had told him to "give priority to the ones that can be saved", covering his eyes and cradling his body.