As thunder crashes and rain pours down, 3,000 soldiers surround the home of the tea master Rikyu (Ebizo Ichikawa). The Chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Nao Omori) has ordered him to commit ritual suicide.
As he sits and contemplates his death, his wife So-on (Miki Nakatani) speaks to him: ‘There is one who is always in your thoughts,’ bringing to Rikyu mind memories he has long held secret.
Rikyu is originally employed as Tea Master to the warlord Oda Nobunaga (Yusuke Iseya). His confidence, even in speaking to Oda, that ‘beauty is what I say it is’ wins over Oda’s principal retainer, Toyotomi Hideyoshi who following Oda’s death continues the process of unifying Japan under his rule, and makes Rikyu ‘Tea Master to the Ruler’. Rikyu, however, begins to inspire jealousy in Hideyoshi, who gradually does away with everyone close to him, finally fastening on ‘the one precious thing’ he has left, an object Rikyu shows to few, but one that has taught him the secrets of true beauty.
This final object of Hideyoshi’s obsession is connected with Rikyu youth.
As a very young man, Rikyu is a creature of pleasure and wild living. One day he encounters a young woman kidnapped from Korea. Attracted by her elegant beauty, devotes himself to her care and loses his heart to her. She is meant as an offering to a powerful warlord, however, so their love is doomed. As the time comes for them to part, Rikyu gives way to passion...