A brothel in the pleasure district of Shinagawa in 1862: young samurai Takasugi Shinasuku (Ishihara Yujiro) joins the fight to restore the imperial government and wants to drive foreigners out of the area. Meanwhile, the establishment’s two most beautiful geishas, Osome and Koharu, battle it out for the top spot, while the debt-plagued Osomo sees no alternative other than to stage a spectacular double suicide with a customer. Shrewd man-about-town Saheiji (played by famous comedian Frankie Sakai) is finally forced to work off his debts in the brothel, a situation that he manages to turn to his own advantage however.
Kawashima’s burlesque comedy harks back to the Japanese Rakugo comic tradition and is set at a time of enormous social and political upheaval: the final years of the shogunate on the eve of the Meiji Restoration, which would transform the isolated feudal state of Japan, dominated as it was by the warrior aristocracy of the samurai, into a modern society.
The screenplay was written in collaboration with Kawashima’s assistant Imamura Shohei, who would later become one of the founders of the Japanese Nouvelle Vague.