Teijun Ogawa, a proud and rare niso (female priest) of Japanese Shingon Buddhist Sect, dies after telling her story to Reiko and Max, a Japanese couple based in New York. She told them about her desolate life since she was given to a temple at the age of seven, and her achievement of building the Enmyoin temple single-handedly. But she refused to share her view as a woman—as if the subject was taboo. Upon hearing the arrival of a young heiress, as though guided by old Teijun, the couple revisits Enmyoin.
The GateKeeper of Enmyoin is the product of their journey in search of Teijun’s unspoken feelings about her womanhood before and after her death. While the dark reality of Teijun’s female priesthood in the man-dominant rural Japanese Buddhist culture is revealed, new mysteries of the untold parts of Teijun’s life emerge. The story is told through Reiko’s voice, which reflects her own journey of trying to find freedom, balance and integration of her roles as a rebel, new immigrant in the U.S., woman, wife, and mother. Soon the simple unfinished portrait of Teijun develops into a genre-bending, personal detective documentary with rich narrative flavor and spiritual sustenance.