'The Treasury of Loyal Retainers', (Kanadehon Chūshingura)
A tale of samurai honour... Japan's most famous revenge story!
Of all the feudal lords serving the shogun, one of the most senior is the governor of Kamakura, Kō no Moronau. But he is an evil and lecherous old man, and when his advances towards another man's wife are rejected, his spiteful nature demands that he take it out on someone else. That person is the mild-mannered Lord Enya Hangan, the husband of the woman Moronau tried to seduce.
Inside the shogun's castle it is forbidden to draw one's sword... it is a crime punishable by death! Knowing this well, Moronau finds the opportunity to taunt Hangan with so many insults, even insisting he is as stupid as a fish and striking his sword hilt, that Hangan is pushed over the edge. Throwing caution to the wind, he must defend his honour. Hangan finally draws his sword and slashes at Moronau, but just then, a retainer rushes out to hold Hangan back and so he is prevented from killing his enemy.
Taken into custody, Lord Hangan eventually receives his official punishment: he is to take his own life by seppuku, ritual disembowelment. Hangan agrees to this without complaint, but his one regret... the one thing that keeps him from a peaceful death... is that he could not kill the man who so dishonoured him. He needs to communicate this to his chief retainer, and delays his suicide as long as he can until the retainer finally rushes in just before his lord breathes his last. This chief retainer is Ōboshi Yuranosuke. He has understood his lord's dying wish.
After Hangan's death, his castles and lands are all confiscated by the authorities, and all his retainers become masterless samurai called rōnin. Most of these men disperse and some even seek re-employment with the enemy Moronau. But a small group of 47 loyal retainers remain who, under Yuranosuke's leadership, are bent on revenge! For a loyal samurai, avenging a wrong done to one's lord was an honourable path. In this case, however, that path is fraught with danger and difficulty because Moronau is a powerful man who already suspects Yuranosuke's intentions. It is not easy to get near him.
Months and months pass by without any sign of progress for the 47 rōnin. Some begin to lose heart, and many are astounded at Yuranosuke's behaviour. Their leader seems to waste his time, giving himself up to debauchery in the red light district of Kyoto. Perhaps there is no longer any hope that the revenge will succeed. Or could this just be a ploy to disguise the real plan?