Samurai Rebellion (1967)


Samurai Rebellion (上意討ち 拝領妻始末, Jōi-uchi: Hairyō tsuma shimatsu) is a 1967 Japanese jidaigeki film directed by Masaki Kobayashi.

The film is based on Hairyozuma shimatsu, a short story by Yasuhiko Takiguchi.


In the Edo period of Japan, in the year 1725, Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mifune) is a vassal of the daimyo of the Aizu clan, Masakata Matsudaira. Isaburo is one of the most skilled swordsmen in the land, whose principal rival is his good friend Tatewaki Asano (Tatsuya Nakadai). Isaburo is in a loveless marriage with a shrew of a woman. One day, one of the daimyo’s advisors orders Isaburo’s elder son Yogoro (Go Kato) to marry the daimyo’s ex-concubine, Ichi (Yoko Tsukasa), even though she is the mother to one of the daimyo’s sons. With much trepidation, the family agrees. In time, Ichi and Yogoro find love and happiness in the marriage and a daughter, Tomi, is born.

However, the daimyo’s primary heir dies, and he orders his ex-concubine to rejoin his household to care for their son and heir. The family refuses, but Ichi is tricked into the castle by Isaburo’s younger son, otherwise her husband and father-in-law will be ordered to commit seppuku for their insolence and insubordination. Isaburo counters that he will comply only if the heads of the daimyo and his two primary advisors are brought to him first. Isaburo sends his younger son and wife away and dismisses his household servants. With his elder son, he prepares for battle, removing the tatami from his house to prevent slipping in the blood that will be spilled and removing the house’s walls to allow for more space for combat.

The daimyo’s steward, accompanied by a platoon of 20 samurai, brings Ichi to the Sasahara house and tries to force her at spear point to renounce her marriage to Yogoro and join the daimyo’s household. The daimyo also “graciously” offers to commute Isaburo and Yogoro’s sentences to life confinement in a shrine outside his castle. Not only does Ichi refuse to join his household, she throws herself onto a spear instead of abandoning her husband. Her husband goes to her side and is killed with her in his arms. His father, enraged, kills the steward’s entire party, killing the steward last as he attempts to flee.

Burying the dead couple, Isaburo now decides to take his case to the shogun in Edo regardless of the consequences to his clan, accompanied by Tomi. Tatewaki, who is guarding the gate, cannot permit Isaburo to pass, and a climactic duel follows with his good friend. Isaburo is the victor, but assassins hidden nearby cut Isaburo down with musket fire. As Isaburo dies, we see Tomi’s wet-nurse comforting the baby: she has been secretly following him.


  • Toshiro Mifune as Isaburo Sasahara.
  • Yoko Tsukasa as Ichi Sasahara.
  • Go Kato as Yogoro Sasahara.
  • Tatsuya Nakadai as Tatewaki Asano.
  • Shigeru Koyama as Geki Takahashi.
  • Masao Mishima as Sanzaemon Yanase.
  • Isao Yamagata as Shobei Tsuchiya.
  • Tatsuyoshi Ehara as Bunzo Sasahara.
  • Etsuko Ichihara as Kiku.
  • Tatsuo Matsumura as Masakata Matsudaira.
  • Takamaru Sasaki as Kenmotsu Sasahara.
  • Jun Hamamura as Hyoemon Shiomi.


The music, by Tōru Takemitsu, is performed almost exclusively on traditional Japanese instruments, including shakuhachi, biwa, and taiko.


Samurai Rebellion received a roadshow release in Japan on 27 May 1967 where it was distributed by Toho. The film received a wide theatrical release in Japan on 03 June 1967 and was released by Toho International in December 1967, with English-subtitles and a 120-minute running time. It has been released to home video under the title of Samurai Rebellion.


Samurai Rebellion received awards in Japan, including Kinema Junpo awarding it Best Film, Best Director (Kobayashi), Best Screenplay (Shinobu Hashimoto (also for Kihachi Okamoto’s Japan’s Longest Day)). Mainichi Film Concours awarded it as Best Film of the year. Along with China is Near, it won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Other Adaptations

A TV movie remake starring Masakazu Tamura as Isaburo Sasahara and Yukie Nakama as Ichi Sasahara aired on TV Asahi in 2013. Screenplay by Shinobu Hashimoto.

  • Naoto Ogata as Yoichiro Sasahara.
  • Masahiko Tsugawa as Kenmotsu Sasahara.
  • Ren Osugi as Masakata Matsudaira.
  • Takashi Sasano as Shobei Tanimura.
  • Meiko Kaji as Suga Sasahara.
  • Ken Matsudaira as Tatewaki Asano.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Masaki Kobayashi.
  • Producer(s):
    • Toshirô Mifune … producer.
    • Tomoyuki Tanaka … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Shinobu Hashimoto.
    • Yasuhiko Takiguchi (novel).
  • Music:
    • Toru Takemitsu.
  • Cinematography:
    • Kazuo Yamada.
  • Editor(s):
    • Hisashi Sagara.
  • Production:
    • Mifune Productions Co. Ltd.
    • Toho Company.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Toho Company (1967) (Japan) (theatrical).
    • Produzioni Atlas Cinematografica (PAC) (1968) (Italy) (theatrical).
    • Artkino Pictures (1970) (Argentina) (theatrical).
    • Dianafilmi (1981) (Finland) (theatrical).
    • The Criterion Collection (2005) (USA) (DVD) (as ‘Samurai Rebellion’).
    • Another World Entertainment (2008) (Denmark) (DVD).
    • Another World Entertainment (2008) (Norway) (DVD).
    • Njutafilms (2008) (Sweden) (DVD).
    • Firebox (2010) (Finland) (DVD).
    • Home Vision Cinema (USA) (VHS).
    • Yleisradio (YLE) (2020) (Finland) (TV).
  • Release Date: 27 May 1967 (roadshow version, Japan).
  • Rating: 12.
  • Running Time: 128 minutes.
  • Country: Japan.
  • Language: Japanese and English (subtitles).

Video Clip(s)

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