Director Hirokazu Koreeda turns the popularly held conventions of the typical samurai evenge tale on their head with this story of a man whose quest to avenge the death of his father gradually takes a back seat to his emerging role as a key figure in the community.
The year is 1702, and young samurai Sozaemon Aoki (Junichi Okada) has arrived in Edo to seek revenge against Jubei Kanazawa (Tadanoby Asano). Kanazawa is the man responsible for the death of Aoki's father, and now it's up to the grieving swordsman to settle the score.
When Aoki begins teaching the children of Edo to read and write, however, his bloodlust slowly begins to subside as he cones to realize the true value of his useful place in society.
Upon falling in love with the beautiful Osae (Rie Miyazawa), Aoki comes to realize that although the sword may be a powerful symbol of strength, allowing oneself to fall victim to its savage allure may not always be the best way to realizing ones true heroism.