Dembei, a Kyoto merchant, is in love with Oshun, a courtesan, and she returns his love. But Kanzaemon, a wicked samurai, wishes to redeem her against her will. In conspiracy with Kanzo, a broker, and Mampachi, an employee of Dembei's store, Kanzaemon swindles Dembei out of 300 [ryo](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%8D_(Japanese_coin)), wishing to use the money for the redemption of Oshun. He is forestalled, however, by Dembei's kind-hearted father, Kizaemon, who buys Oshun up in favor of Dembei.
Far from giving up Oshun, Kanzaemon, together with Kanzo and Mampachi, waylays her on the lonely dry riverbed of Kamo at night. They attack an approaching palanquin supposedly bearing Oshun. To their surprise, however, Dembei appears from within and in an ensuing fight Kanzemon is killed and Kanzo and Mampachi are put to rout.
Now that he has murdered a samurai, Dembei realizes that capital punishment is inevitable. He decides to kill himself instead of being executed. Noticing the approach of someone, Dembei tries to commit suicide but is interrupted by Oshun and Kyuhachi, a tea house employee, who have come to look for him. Kyuhachi, whom Dembei rescued form possible imprisonment with a ransom some years ago when Kyuhachi killed a man in a fight in Osaka, is always thankful to him and eager to repay his kindness. He dissuades Dembei from suicide and advised Dembei and Oshun to leave immediately to escape from police pursuit. Soon afterwards Mampachi with some helpers arrive for revenge but Kyuhachi easily repulses them. Presently a police unit arrives and Kyuhachi offers himself, falsely naming himself the murderer of Kanzaemon.
Temporarily separating from Dembei, Oshun visits the home of her blind mother, who makes a living by teaching the samisen to girls in the neighborhood, and her brother, Yojiro, an illiterate monkey trainer.
Oshun's Mother teaches the samisen to a young girl. Soon the lesson ends and the girl takes her leave. Yojiro returns home and tells his mother and sister that he fears Dembei may come after Oshun and involve the family in his trouble. He forces his sister to write a letter to Dembei severing her relations with him. Yojiro himself is too ignorant to understand what his sister has written in the letter
Before the letter can be sent Dembei arrives at the door. Yojiro, who is not very intelligent, puts the light out and in the commotion in darkness he mistakes Oshun for Dembei and pushes her, instead of her lover, out of the house. When he realizes his mistake Yojiro decisdes the only way to get rid of the intruder is to let Dembei read Oshun's letter dismissing him. But this plan also misfires because instead of being one of unkind tone, the letter proves to be one reaffirming Oshun's unchanging devotion to Dembei. Yojiro and his mother are greatly moved by Oshun's faithfulness to her lover and agree to help them escape together. To wish them good luck on their journey Yojiro makes his monkeys perform a felicitous dance.
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