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In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Ai no korîda (original title)
NC-17 | | Drama, Romance | 1 April 1977 (USA)
A passionate telling of the story of Sada Abe, a woman whose affair with her master led to an obsessive and ultimately destructive sexual relationship.


Nagisa Ôshima


Nagisa Ôshima
2,899 ( 672)
4 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuya Fuji ... Kichizo Ishida
Eiko Matsuda ... Sada Abe
Aoi Nakajima Aoi Nakajima ... Toku
Yasuko Matsui Yasuko Matsui ... Tagawa Inn Manager
Meika Seri Meika Seri ... Matsuko (Yoshidaya maid)
Kanae Kobayashi Kanae Kobayashi ... Old geisha Kikuryû
Taiji Tonoyama ... Old Beggar
Kyôji Kokonoe ... Teacher Ômiya
Naomi Shiraishi Naomi Shiraishi ... Geisha Yaeji
Shinkichi Noda Shinkichi Noda
Komikichi Hori Komikichi Hori ... Mitsuwa Geisha
Kikuhei Matsunoya Kikuhei Matsunoya ... Hôkan jester
Akiko Koyama ... Mansaki Geisha
Yuriko Azuma Yuriko Azuma ... Mitsuwa Geisha
Rei Minami Rei Minami ... Mitsuwa Geisha


Based on a true story set in pre-war Japan, a man and one of his servants begin a torrid affair. Their desire becomes a sexual obsession so strong that to intensify their ardor, they forsake all, even life itself. Written by Allen Brown <browna@ohsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Sensation of Cannes, London, Berlin, Chicago and Los Angeles See more »


Drama | Romance


NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The Japanese considered pubic hair forbidden in cinema, one of the numerous reasons why this film was censored in its country. Pubic hair however is now commonplace in Japanese pornography. Only genitalia remains censored. See more »


Kichizo: I've got to pee. Okay with you?
Sada Abe: There's no need to leave. Do it here.
Kichizo: Where?
Sada Abe: Inside of Sada, all nice and warm.
Kichizo: You're mad! It's impossible to do both at the same time.
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Alternate Versions

The original version ran 108 minutes. Producer Anatole Dauman received Oshima's permission to recut the film, resulting in a shorter 102-minute edit. This version has been distributed theatrically in some countries (such as France) and is available on video in Australia, the UK, the United States, and France. The French DVD includes both versions (via seamless branching), while the U.S. Criterion DVD features the cut footage as an extra. The PAL releases run 97 minutes. This shorter version makes the following changes:
  • An early scene in which Sada has sex with Ishida while playing a shamisen has been cut by about a minute and a half. In the original version, Sada seemingly goes unconscious and Ishida checks for her heartbeat.
  • A brief shot (12 seconds) of Ishida and Sada on a bridge has been added to the scene in which the couple goes out walking at night.
  • A later scene (in which the geishas assault one of their own with a dildo) is cut by 14 seconds to remove a shot of Ishida and Sada's faces in mid-copulation.
  • An entire two-minute scene is deleted about an hour into the film. This scene features Sada and Ishida having sex behind a thin screen, while Ishida speaks of the "darkness" he feels inside Sada.
  • The scene in which Sada first strangles Ishida is cut by just over one minute. In the short version, the scene ends when Ishida starts coughing and Sada releases his throat. In the original version, Ishida asks her to resume, which she does (only to stop when he begins coughing again).
  • The scene in which Ishida becomes drowsy while having sex with Sada is edited differently. The original version has slightly different dialogue and has an additional minute of footage where Ishida actually does fall asleep for a short time.
  • The scene in which Sada wakes up after her final night with Ishida is cut by one minute. The original version shows Sada lying on the floor and apparently panicking, walking around the room and opening doors for no obvious reason. The short version cuts straight from Sada waking up to the shot of her standing over Ishida's body.
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Featured in Pirated Copy (2004) See more »


Ume wa saitaka (aka: Is the plum blooming?)
Japanese traditional
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User Reviews

Erotic movie examines its society
9 February 2008 | by dave13-1See all my reviews

With his landmark film The Ceremony, Nagisa Oshima became one of Japanese filmdom's leading social critics as he dissected the logic behind ritual suicide, arranged marriages and other activities considered acceptable 'traditional' behavior. Here he examines the story behind a famous Japanese scandal - a prostitute was found wandering the streets of Tokyo out of her mind following the death of her lover by erotic asphyxiation - in terms of what is considered 'acceptable' Japanese social behavior. The principals engage in obsessive sexual activity, and allow the addictive and dangerous aspects of their relationship to get out of hand precisely BECAUSE it was considered so unhealthy and immoral by Japanese standards. In a society in which all sexual activity is viewed as shameful, shame no longer mediates behavior. Limits become meaningless. The film itself is colorfully made, with excellent period detail and production design, and the actors are attractive. The structure is that of an erotic novel, as game playing, obsession and danger escalate to a fitting point-of-no-return climax. It is much better and more socially relevant than similar American films such as Nine 1/2 Weeks.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Japan | France



Release Date:

1 April 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Realm of the Senses See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (original) | (2000 re-release) | (DVD) | (final) | (reconstructed version) (R-rated) (reconstructed)

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.50 : 1
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