In the turmoil of Japan, before the banishment of the samurai class, a disillusioned samurai, Itashima Chobei, is confronted by Akiyama, a samurai on a mysterious errand for his powerful leader. Their conflicted worlds lead to a battle of wits, ego and pursuit. In the middle is a beautiful woman, Miyo, attached to one, coveted by the other. Cho, after having been forced by his clan to perform atrocities, works as a yojimbo and handyman for a second-tier inn along the Nakasendo Highway. Akiyama is a samurai from Mito province who is loyal to his clan. When Akiyama's Daimyo Lord is forced to stay at the inn, improvements must be made, and the Mito samurai demands that the inn make those changes according to the Mito Leader's requirements. After a failed assassination attempt against the leader of Japan, Akiyama and Miyo disappear. Cho, believing that Miyo has chosen to live with a samurai of higher status, pursues them, determined that Miyo know the truth about the man with whom she's disappeared. Cho and a young samurai companion, Kensei, travel the length and breadth of Japan’s highways for a year in search of the couple. They separate for personal reasons, but reunite at the inn another year later where Cho learns the truth of Miyo's departure and her life with Akiyama. Does he owe it to himself or to Japan to find Akiyama and punish him for what he's done?