Chikuzan Takahashi, in his late sixties at the time of filming, is a blind musician who has spent most of his life on the roads of Northern Japan, earning his living as a tsugaru shamisen player. Latterly he acquired a devoted following among Japanese students, which is why Shindo made The Life of Chikuzan. The movie opens with Chikuzan himself in concert, then moves into a drama-documentary reconstruction of his early years, from his impoverished parents' desperate attempts to find a livelihood for him to his successful second marriage. Shindo keeps the travelogue elements to a decent minimum, and doesn't shy away from the harshness of Chikuzan's stoicism or lapse into sentimentality. He also chooses incidents with an eye to more than his subject's biography alone. The music, of course, is sublime.