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In the mountain country of Japan, Tome, a young girl, grows up in ignorance of the morals of the time. Unaware of her true father's identity, she lives with her foster father and is his bedmate until she is 20 years old. She becomes pregnant by a neighboring farmer but does not marry him; instead, she goes to work in a factory. After having an affair with the shop foreman, she becomes a housemaid for the mistress of an American soldier and derives pleasure from listening to their lovemaking. After contributing through neglect to the death of the woman's child, Tome experiences remorse. In time, however, she opens her own prostitution business and sadistically hires the woman who had been the mistress of the American soldier. Tome briefly feels love for a merchant called Karasawa, but she is disillusioned when he asks her to sleep with a client. After serving a prison term for prostitution, she returns to Tokyo. Meanwhile, Nobuko, Tome's grown daughter, learns that she is pregnant, goes to bed with Karasawa, robs him, and runs off to join her lover in the country. Tome, now old and weary, brings the girl back to the city and turns her over to Karasawa.