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Set in the late nineteenth century, Seibei Iguchi is a low-ranking samurai whose wife has died of tuberculosis. With two daughters, Kayano and Ito, and an elderly mother to support, he and his family must survive in austerity. The moment that his daily work as a clerk, in one of the clans' warehouses is over, he hurries home, refusing to drink or eat with fellow samurai. Behind his back, his fellow samurai teasing him for his actions. The divorce of his childhood friend Tomoe leads him into a confrontation with her violent ex-husband, a high-ranking samurai. When word of Seibei's easy victory using only a wooden sword begins to circulate, his reputation for sword-fighting prowess begins to change his colleagues assessment of him.