Osai's husband, shogun leader of the clan of Izumo, is called away on business. In his absence, she asks his favoured retainer, Gonza, to marry her young daughter. But Gonza is caught up within the intra-clan power struggle, as others seek to usurp his prominent position. Beneath structured ritual, beneath the unstructured dichotomy of masculine and feminine culture, Shinoda uncovers the motivating passions which slowly simmer before boiling to the surface. Based on the 18th century play by Monzaemon Chikamatsu, the film's triumph comes with its final samurai confrontation, two dishonoured men left with no choice but to fulfil their prescribed roles.