The play is David Hwang’s adaptation of Yasunari Kawabata’s novel, House of the Sleeping Beauties. The playwright imagines how the novelist might have been inspired to write his book. In the play, Kawabata wants to visit a brothel for research for a short story. He is distraught over his friend Mishima’s suicide, and he finds himself thinking of his own mortality. What he finds at the brothel is much different from what he had anticipated. Elderly men come in and literally sleep with the women, who never even awaken. Kawabata continues to visit, trying to write about the place, but his words have failed him. He develops a romantic friendship with the madam, and one day she gives him a sedative allowing him to sleep. His block goes away, and he writes his story. Having achieved peace, he asks the Madam to give him poisoned tea. After he drinks, she takes some, too, and both characters die.