A journalist interviews an old woman who was forced into prostitution, just like many other Japanese women working in Asia outside of Japan during the first half of the 20th century. She worked in a Malaysian brothel called Sandakan 8.
Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s' students researching Osugi's theories.
In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.
Kei Kumai, Japan's greatest director, is, sadly, virtually unknown in the United States. I have seen four of his films: Sandakan 8, Death Of A Tea Master, Shinobugawa, and Deep River. They are all amazing and wonderful, but to me the greatest is Shinobugawa. It is the story of a young man and a young woman who, despite suffering and tragedy, find their way to each other. Kumai tells the story with such sensitivity and intelligence and emotion that I was moved to the very depths of my soul. The music by Teizo Matsumura is perfect. It is a great tragedy that not one of Kei Kumai's movies is available on video. I can only hope that this great man's genius will soon be recognized and his films will be made available.
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