Sredi 19. stoletja trgovec s sviloprejkami potuje iz Francije na Japonsko, da bi našel neokužena jajčeca sviloprejk, ki jih epidemija, ki grozi evropski zalogi svile, še ni prizadela.
A married silkworm smuggler, Herve Joncour, in 19th Century France who travels to Japan to collect his clandestine cargo. While there he spots a beautiful Japanese woman, the concubine of a local baron, with whom he becomes obsessed. Without speaking the same language, they communicate through letters until war intervenes. Their unrequited love persists however, and Herve's wife Helene begins to suspect.