The play Les Misérables, based on Victor Hugo’s novel of 1862, was performed at the Yūraku Theater in December 1920 with Morita Kan’ya XIII (1885–1932) featured in the role of Jean Valjean. The first Japanese adaptation of Les Misérables dates from 1910.

The ex-convict Jean Valjean, imprisoned for nineteen years after stealing a loaf of bread, assumes a new identity in order to pursue an honest life. He becomes rich and successful but then contends with much adversity before dying in peace.