After their American missionary parents are murdered in China in 1835, Noah and Mary Cole are given passage out of China on an American merchant ship bound for Hawaii. Before their ship can reach its destination, it is attacked by Chinese pirates. Noah is thrown into the ocean, and Mary is taken captive and eventually sold to a bordello in Yoshiwara, the centuries-old Japanese pleasure quarter. Noah is rescued by a Dutch ship bound for Dejima, the manmade island in Nagasaki Bay, where the Dutch and the Chinese are allowed to trade with the Japanese but not allowed to leave the island and enter Japan. In Dejima, Noah learns that his sister may be in Yoshiwara, and despite overwhelming odds, he sets out on a perilous journey to rescue her.