From 10.00 p.m., Tuesdays, 10 January 2023
During the reign of the third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, a strange disease called “red-faced smallpox” spreads throughout Japan. It is a terrifying illness with a fatality rate of 80% that only infects young men and leads to death in a few days. Without a method to manage and cure smallpox, the male population drops sharply to a quarter of the female population. As a result, the country’s social structure is dramatically changed. Males are raised as rare stallions while females replace the males as the labour force. Various family businesses are now handed down from female to female. Even at Edo Castle, the role of the shogun is passed on to a female after Tokugawa Iemitsu’s death. As a symbol of the shogun’s power, the inner palace founded by his wet nurse Kasuga no Tsubone keeps these rare males, creating a world with 3,000 handsome men.
Third Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu . Madenokoji Arikoto-hen
Kasuga no Tsubone tries to hide Tokugawa Iemitsu’s death and lies that it was her biological son Inaba Masakatsu who passed away. Six years later, a handsome monk Madenokoji Arikoto visits Edo Castle to celebrate the shogun’s successor. But he ends up getting forced by Kasuga no Tsubone to return to secular life and enter the inner palace. This is where Arikoto meets Iemitsu who turns out to be a young woman. She presents him with a cat which he names Wakamurasaki. The two of them gradually get closer because of the cat. But in the midst of this, an incident involving Wakamurasaki happens … …
Fifth Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi . Emonnosuke-hen
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi is an uninhibited shogun whose dalliances with men is not only limited to the inner palace but also goes beyond the castle walls. Tsunayoshi’s wife who has not borne a child summons Emonnosuke whose good looks is subject of gossip in the inner palace. Overriding her father Keishoin’s opposition, Tsunayoshi tries to make Emonnosuke a candidate to be her concubine. But for some reason, Emonnosuke appeals to her for a role where he can demonstrate his loyalty. Her chamberlain Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu and Keishoin do everything in their power to bring down Emonnosuke who has captured Tsunayoshi’s attention. Then Tsunayoshi is hit with a tragedy. Her life starts to fall apart after the death of her only daughter Matsu-hime … …
Eighth Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune . Mizuno Yunoshin-hen
Tokugawa Yoshimune adopts policies to address the people’s suffering such as the tribute rice system and the installation of a suggestion box at the front gate of Edo Castle and eventually sets out to tackle the red-faced smallpox that broke out in Edo. She may have a cure and tests something but it ends in failure. Feeling responsible for this matter, Mizuno Yunoshin appeals and Yoshimune makes a big decision. At the same time, Yoshimune feels vexed about her eldest daughter Ieshige whose frustration at not being able to move her body as she wishes often puts people around her in a spot.
Hotta Mayu as Tokugawa Iemitsu
An illegitimate child of the third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu who died of “red-faced smallpox”. She is installed as the third shogun in order to hide Iemitsu’s death. She built an emotional wall because of the early life she had to endure, and also has a violent side. But after she meets Madenokoji Arikoto, she blossoms with his love.
Fukushi Sota as Madenokoji Arikoto
A handsome monk who comes from a noble family. He was made to return to secular life due to Kasuga no Tsubone’s scheme, and becomes Tokugawa Iemitsu’s concubine Oman no Kata. They love each other deeply and he helps her to open up. After that, he becomes the chamberlain of the inner palace and establishes its foundations.
Naka Riisa as Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
Tokugawa Iemitsu’s beautiful and cultured daughter who became the fifth shogun. She is politically ambitious and increases the authority of the shogun. But after the death of her only daughter Matsu-hime, she is forced to focus on childbearing. While trapped by her fate as a female shogun, she gradually establishes a bond with Emonnosuke.
Yamamoto Koji as Emonnosuke
The son of a poor noble family in Kyoto. Even though he was dedicated to learning, he felt sick of a life where he could only sell his body. He enters the inner palace after being summoned by Tokugawa Tsunayoshi’s wife. He desires power more than love, and finds favour with Tsunayoshi. Assuming the position of chamberlain of the inner palace, a role that had been left vacant since the time of Madenokoji Arikoto, he gains control of this place. He seeks his own worth and this resonates with Tsunayoshi.
Tominaga Ai as Tokugawa Yoshimune
The third daughter of Tokugawa Mitsusada, the second lord of the Kishu branch of the Tokugawa family. She became the lord of the domain after the sudden deaths of her two older sisters and worked hard to restore the domain’s finances. After that, she became the eighth shogun and had to shoulder the shogunate’s unprecedented financial difficulties. She advocates simplicity and frugality, and launches a series of reforms. Learning about the existence of chronicle which documents everything that happened, she works to unravel the mysterious reversal of fate and eradicate “red-faced smallpox”.
Nakajima Yuto as Mizuno Yunoshin
The son of a destitute vassal of the shogun in Edo. A handsome, kind-hearted young man who excels in martial arts. Although he is in love with his childhood friend, they cannot get married due to the difference in social status. He decides to let go of his feelings for her and help with family income by entering the inner palace. He is chosen to be the first man she sleeps with.
Saito Yuki as Kasuga no Tsubone
Tokugawa Iemitsu’s wet nurse and the actual founder of the inner palace. Having been through the hardships of war, she desires a peaceful world without conflict. She kidnaps Chie. Then transforms the inner palace into one filled with men in order to make Chie bear an heir and coerces Madenokoji Arikoto to enter the inner palace.
Ryu Raita as Keishoin
A young monk who visited Edo with Madenokoji Arikoto and entered the inner palace at the same time. He later became Tokugawa Iemitsu’s concubine and the father of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. Following Arikoto’s wishes, he forces Tsunayoshi to bear an heir to ensure the continuity of the Tokugawa line. This obsession led to the creation of the law of compassion for living things.
Ooku by Yoshinaga Fumi
Morishita Yoshiko (Tengoku to Jigoku, Dakara Watashi wa Oshimashita, Gibou to Musume no Blues Series)
Ohara Taku, Tajima Akihiro, Kawano Hideaki
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