Zatoichi is a blind man living in 19th century Japan. He's a gambler, a masseur, a curmudgeon, and, most importantly, a peerless swordsman. After being released from jail on charges of petty theft, Ichi finds himself caught between two rival bands of yakuza, one of whom has obtained a cache of guns from crooked policemen. Zatoichi throws in his lot with the sword-carrying gangsters, and stands at the fore as they face off for a battle to the death. En route to his destiny, Ichi confronts a group of crooked gamblers, protects the children of his village, and seeks comfort in the arms of a beautiful courtesan.