The 6th film in the series came out March 14 1964 and it's the 1st of 4 films that year, all starring Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi the blind swordsman. Zaotichi And The Chest Of Gold is written by Shozaburo Asai, Akikazu Ota and Kan Shimozawa (story). It's a good story, evil overlord, trod upon peasants, brave warrior setting it right, even if it's pretty familiar. I could easily see that story translated to an American western or a modern crime drama that could play out nearly anyway.
It's directed by Kazuo Ikehiro who would go on to direct some other very good samurai films. He directed 3 Sleepy Eyes Of Death films as well as 2 more Zatoichi movies. Here he does a great job, there are so many nice shots, I can't even count them, and the action is filmed really well. There some nice optical effects that add a lot. I'm watching the new Criterion release and it looks great.
Zatoichi is travelling to visit the grave of a man he had killed a couple of years earlier. The local magistrate is a corrupt jerk who has the local tax payment stolen. He hires three ronin to do the job. The leader Jushiro is played by Tomisaburo Wakayama who, in a few years, would play Ogami Ittō, another iconic Japanese film figure, in the Lone Wolf And Cub series. That's Tomisaburo on the left there. I really should get those dvds out and watch them again soon. I had the luck to see that 6 film series in the theater back in the 1980s. I think it was at the old Uptown theater during one of their occasional Japanese film series. The LWAC series was produced by Tomisaburo's real life brother Shintaro Katsu.
Zatoichi gets thrown into the middle of everything when the locals think he had something to do with the robbery. He sets out to clear his name and his efforts lead him to the magistrate and the three ronin. The magistrate tries to kill Zatoichi more than once but the men he sends fail miserably. Zatoichi learns where the gold is hidden and recovers it. That magistrate doesn't know what he stirred up when he underestimated the blind man but Tomisburo does when he uses his whip to drag Zatoichi behind his horse. Even a horse is no match for our hero. Well, at least that guy died with a big sword in him.
Another nice offering in the series that I enjoyed quite a lot. You can watch a so-so copy on YouTube. It's better watched in a smaller window and not full screen on a larger monitor.