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The central character in this Kenji Mizoguchi film is Utamaro, the famed 18th-century Edo artist. Somewhat inarticulate, Utamaro expresses his love for five women through his paintings. The director uses this plot contrivance to articulate his plea for fairer and more equitable treatment of women.
And, as in such earlier Mizoguchi films as Sisters of Gion, prostitutes figure prominently into the scheme of things. Mizoguchi's second postwar effort, Utamaro and His Five Women was originally titled Utamaro o meguru gonin no onna.