Elements of production
When he quiets, she walks out into the clearning and a cat and mouse flirtation ensues where he hides from her then reaapears, then disappears and reappears finally appears to be surrounded by flames from a bonfire. Kaede is dizzy from the game and seeing Saburo runs towards the flames to join him, when he disappears from sight. She contemplates her desire for Saburo. Acknowledging that the pursuit of Saburo will probably not end well, because obligation, she chooses to surrender to her own desire, she concludes that she will find peace and joy in whatever the outcome. Thinking that she sees Saburo dancing in the fire, she reaches into the flames to touch him and burns her hand.
ARAUMI / TEMPESTUOUS SEA
The next morning, Yasunobu, disturbed by a nightmare that he had, stumbles into the kitchen. He admits to Ume that he feels out of control and confused by Kaede's behaviors and Saburo's behavior and that heis questioning some of his choices and decisions made in his younger years. He remininsces about their childhood together and that he should have married her. Ume finds his admission bittersweet and chastises him for putting careet advancement before love and family.
Ume's tells her story of Yasunobu and her early love affair and the resultant pregnancy. She explains that his triumphant war experience promoted him to a level that put him out of her reach. Without telling him, she self-aborts his baby.
In a last attempt to legitimize her pregancy, Chiyo tells Saburo about the baby and that Yasunobu would build a little house for them if he would marry her. Saburo has no nterest in marriage or fatherhood.
Ume visits Kaede in her room to tend to the burn on her hand and the two women confess and bond, one woman who lost everything for not having the courage for going after what she wanted and one woman on the precipice of trying to achieve the object of her desire and has found peace with the outcome. Ume has joined Kaede's team.
Kaede sits with Yasunobu while he works on his calligraphy manuscript of the Tale of Heike. She thanks him for sending Chiyo away and informs him that she will attend the moon purification at the Shrine that night and for him not to wait up for her. Yasunobu decides to use this time to try to make it right with Saburo. Ume informs him that Saburo has left to cut the pampas grass and bring it to the Shrine for Lady Kaede. Yasunobu thinks that this sounds strange and his suspicion gets the better of him. He grabs his sword and leaves.
Kaede waits at the Shrine. After some time, she is about to leave when Saburo appears with pampas grass. They talk and she says there should be no lies between them. He admits that he has been attracted to her and say because of who she is, he has refrained. She says that by him coming here that they have no means of escape. He replies that his sword is pointed to Yasunobu in an act of revenge.
JYOEN / LOVE
A fight… A seduction… A surrender to passion …
As the love making intesifies, Kaede screams.
Yasunobu who on his way to the Shrine hears her scream. He arrives at the outer garden and is stunned by what he sees. He draws his sword and a struggle between the three of them ensues.
Saburo is prepared for this and mortally wounds Yasunobu with his own sword. Kaede seeing the sickle that Saburo dropped, picks it up and strikes Saburo in the neck.
Both die. Silence.
Horrified at what has happened, Kaede covers Yasunobu's body with her kimono. She promises that she will follow him.
KONPAKU / SPIRIT
Then slowly, a quiet peace overtakes her. As the horror fades, Kaede accepts her fate.
Ume prepares Kaede for her inevitable end. In a peaceful surrender, Kaede feels strangely free - free from obligation, free from duty, free from disciplined behavior, free to just be. Kaede, though, intent on doing it her way, skirts ritual and kills her self with Yasunobu's sword.
TOUSETSU / COLD
At the age of 29, Kaede, a Shrine Maiden and the daughter of a prominent Shinto family, was offered in marriage to a high ranking celebrated samurai, Tsuruokua Yasunobu, as a token of the Daimyo’s high esteem and appreciation of his service in the Osaka Wars.
Through the schooling and not so patient discipline of Ume, Yasunobu’s devoted head of household servant, Kaede has become the model wife, learning the proper behavior and deference required of the spouse of a man of Yasunobu’s stature. However, after three years of marriage, she remains childless.
After three months away, Yasunobu has just returned home from a business trip. He is welcomed by his wife and attended to by Ume, the new house servant, Chiyo (18) and Saburo (27), the grounds keeper. Yasunobu notices that his favorite koi fish is missing from the pond. Ume tells him that the fish escaped from the koi pond when the typhoon hit. Yasunobu instructs Saburo to bring a large heavy rock to block the escape route to avoid further loss of his beloved koi. Kaede notices Saburo’s physique with this display of his strength and also notices the attraction between Saburo and Chiyo.
Early the following morning, Kaede witnesses a tender good-bye between Chiyo and Saburo as he leaves for a local village shrine festival where he will participate in a sumo tournament. Powerful emotions stir in her heart and she recalls an incident that occurred a couple of months earlier. She was bitten by a snake while picking wild flowers and Saburo came to her aid. It was this moment that she realized that she was both attracted and frightened by her intense irrepressible but illict feelings. She equaties them to the perfection of a ripe peach and the seductive pain of an aching sore - both equally joyful to her.
Inexperience with her own emotions and fueled by her envy of the blossoming relationshp between Chiyo and Saburo, Kaede’s infatuation with the young gardener escalates. She begins to haunt Chiyo. In a bold and illogical move, Kaede steals a pair of Yasunobu’s tabi and gifts them to Saburo.
AYA NO TSUZUMI
The next day, Kaede distracted by what she has done, inapproapriately enters the kitchen. She finds the tabi discarded in the garbage barrel. She spins out of control and during a confrontation between Kaede and Saburo, Chiyo intervenes and admits to having thrown the tabi away. Kaede queries her on how she came to have the tabi, accusing her of stealing them. Chiyo recoils at the thought and blurts out that she took them from Saburo. Kaede chastistes them, when she tells them that she will report both of them to Yasunobu and he will determine their fate.
Having the proof that Chiyo has a crush on Saburo, Kaede declares war - Chiyo the enemy and Saburo the spoils. Kaede calls on the spirits for the strength to carry out her plan.
Several days later, after Chiyo faints while picking peaches with Ume in the orchard. Chiyo is pregnant.
Chiyo tells the story of her pregnancy. That 4 months ago, she was trying to cool off from the humid sticky heat of the night, when she was assaulted by a drunken Yasunobu. She did not fight but endured the attack by her master. Chiyo is confused and numb as she washes the blood trickling down her leg. and trying to make sense of what happened. When suddenly Saburo bursts from the darkness where he was hiding and has his way with Chiyo too.
Kaede discovers that Chiyo is pregnant when she visits the kitchen and Ume explains Chiyo's absence from work due to her fainting spell. She tells Kaede that Chiyo is pregnant. Kaede immediately goes to find Yasunobu who is nowhere to be found. Kaede waits in his tatami mat room. Soon Yasunobu can be heard singing the praises of sake loudly. He stumbles into his room, amusing himself with his song. When he stops singing, Kaede quietly states that Chiyo is pregnant. Yasunobu thinks he is hearing voices, is startled by Kaede's presence. The two begin discussing Chiyo's pregancy when Ume bursts into the room to fight for Chiyo. Kaede drives a hard bargain with Yasunobu, insisting that not only Chiyo be sent back to her family before bringing disgrance upon hte Tsuroku family name but also for stealing Yasunobu's tabi. Yasunobu resists but Kaede, wielding her newly discovered power, forces him into submission.
INA INA/NO NO
Thrilled that she got her way, her triumph is short-lived when that night, Kaede has a horrific nightmare where Yasunobu dies after being washed up on the shore and she cold-heartedly refuses to save his life. She is visited by his demonic ghost who inflicts intense physical pain on her for her cold-heartedness.
KENGAN/MY EYES REMAIN DRY
AYA NO TSUZUMI
Ume decides to take Chiyo to the Shinto Dog Shrine to ask for the Goddess of Childbirth's blessing. Chiyo is touched by Ume's concern for the baby and asks her to please be the baby's 'grandmother'. Together they perform a Shinto ritual to assure a safe delivery and health for mother and child.
Yasunobu asks Saburo to come to him to discuss the baby. Saburo tells him that the baby is not his. When Yasunobu inquries about how he knows that, Saburo reveals that he saw what happend that night with Chiyo. Yasunobu say that who is responsible for the baby will be determined by the baby's face. Yasunobu then tells Saburo that he looks exactly like his father, Matagoro. He then offers Saburo the sword that Matagoro gave him when Matagoro is killed by the enemy. Saburo loses control and accuses Yasunobu of abandoned his father and letting him die at the hands of the enemy. Yasunobu tries to assuage Saburo's belief by telling him the truth but Saburo refuses to listen and taking the sword runs from the room. Yasunobu, stunned by Saburo's behavior, questions his success at keeping his promise to Matagoro to raise Saburo like a son.
Saburo runs into the mountains and stops at the a clearing to catch his breath. He is so overwrought by voicing his long suppressed anger and resentment. He starts fighting Yasunobu in his imagination, vowing to seek revenge on Yasunobu. Kaede wanders into the clearing on her way back to the house, when she sees Saburo. She hides in the darkness and watches as he fights and spits out his words of revenge.