Tokyo was once a tiny fishing village called Edo. The city owes its rapid expansion to the fact that, in 1603, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu wanted to found the country’s capital at a place that was as far away as possible from the imperial seat in Kyoto. Edo soon grew to become a magnificent city. Anyone passing beneath the Great Gate of the new capital entered a glamorous world of pleasure and recreation. In Yoshiwara, the door-to-door bordellos covered an area easily equivalent to nine football pitches. Nevertheless, the quarter could not be compared to red-light districts of today’s cities. The pastimes on offer in Yoshiwara were meant exclusively for wealthy visitors, who were often members of the best families in the land. The brothels were more like salons, presided over by courtesans. Indeed, these salons had considerable influence on the arts, fashions and other cultural proclivities of what is known as the “Edo” period. The women who worked at such places were expected to be as well-versed in music, dance and parlour games, as in the art of flower arranging. A courtesan in Edo could not be bought, rather, she wanted to be won over, and therefore expected a certain amount of attention, sensitivity and generosity from the man who conquered her. Edo’s ordinary inhabitants eyed everything that went on in Yoshiwara with a mixtrure of envy and distrust. Sakuran tells the story of one woman living in the lustrous world of Yoshiwara who was determined to stand on her own two feet and live life as she pleased. —AsianMediaWiki
Mika Ninagawa is a famous photographer in Japan, this film feels like her photos have come to life. There's a nice story, but it seems that more emphasis was put on the visuals. Each scene looks like it could be a photograph, and having model, Anna Tsuchiya as the protagonist doesn't hurt. What also adds to the film is the beautiful soundtrack by Shiina Ringo.