A samurai named Soza (Junichi Okada) has lived in the modest Edo shanty town for the past 3 years in search of his father’s killer. His father was killed in a petty dispute over the game “Go” and his last words to Soza were to revenge his death. Soza while honoring his father’s wishes has also been partaking in activities that are of interest to him, but unusual for a Samurai. This would include running a private school for the neighborhood kids and keeping birds as pets. He’s also become quietly attached to a widow named Osae (Rie Miyazawa) and her 8 year old son Shinbo. It’s also revealed through humorous scenes in the film that Soza is a terrible swordsman and actually scared of battle. When he finally locates his father’s killer Soza he now has to weight the teachings of his Samurai background against his own moral convictions.
Running parallel with Soza’s story are the various stories of the shanty town residents. The most notable story involves the fabled 47 Ronins. The 47 Ronins were a group of samurai that were leaderless after their master was forced to commit suicide because of an assault on a court official. The ronins then blended back into society, while secretly conspiring to exact revenge for their dishonored master. They patiently wait for over a year to launch their attack – all the while knowing they would be sentenced to death for their actions.