In feudal Japan, Oharu (Kinuyo Tanaka), the daughter of royal samurai Shinzaemon (Ichiro Sugai), secretly has a passionate romance with Katsunosuke (Toshirô Mifune), a man with a meager social standing. When the couple is found out, the law comes down hard on this breach of class: Katsunosuke is put to death and Oharu and her family are banished from the kingdom. Destitute and disgraced, Shinzaemon sells Oharu into prostitution, and she spends years searching for love.
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