Cast & Crew
In the spring of 1935 Shimamura, a writer and critic, visits a small hot springs resort town in northern Japan and meets Komako, a 19-year-old girl who helps the geishas to entertain the tourists. Shimamura is attracted to her, but when he asks her to send him a geisha, she throws a tantrum and leaves his room, only to return later, drunk from a party, to spend the night with him. As the two become more intimate over the next few days, Shimamura learns that Komako is the adopted daughter of a local dance teacher who wishes her to marry her son. Shimamura returns to his wife and child in Tokyo, but the following winter finds him on the way to the same town. On the train, he spots a young girl, Yoko, caring for a sick young man, Yukio. Later he finds out from Komako that Yoko also was adopted by the dance teacher and Yukio is the teacher's son. The blind masseuse of the village tells Shimamura that Komako has had to become a geisha to support her family after her step-mother fell ill and was unable to work. Komako reveals that Yukio contracted intestinal tuberculosis while studying in Tokyo and Yoko brought him back from there to care for him. Shimamura senses that Yoko loves Yukio, who loves Komako, and Yoko is bitter toward her step-sister for not reciprocating Yukio's love. After a short stay Shimamura is about to leave for Tokyo when Yoko comes to the train station with news that Yukio's condition has suddenly deteriorated. Komako refuses to leave the station, however, without seeing off her lover. In the autumn of the following year Shimamura revisits the town, which is already covered with snow. The dance teacher and Yukio have died; Komako has left Yoko to live alone in the family house. By now Komako is so in love with Shimamura that she claims she would be happy if he came to see her only once a year. Realizing that he cannot reciprocate such passionate devotion, Shimamura decides to leave the town for good. Before he can announce his intentions, however, Yoko is badly burned in a fire. Shimamura leaves town without telling Komako that he will not be back.
Released in Japan in 1965 as Yukiguni.