The farmers arrive in town, and watch the various samurai march up and down the street in suitably intimidating fashion.
They try recruiting a few, but three bowls of rice a day proves to be somewhat less enticing than they'd hoped.
They're drawn out of their general depression by word about a samurai getting ready to take on a thief. The thief's holed up in a barn and has taken a child hostage.
They arrive in time to watch the samurai, Kambei, have his head shaven: a serious no-no among his kind. (He's disguising himself as a priest in order to get close to the thief.)
He slips up to the barn and offers the thief some food, then guts him like a trout when he drops his guard.
The farmers are suitably impressed and make their pitch to him. He agrees to do it, but says he'll need six more to do the job right.
Recruiting begins right away and Katsushiro, a young aspiring samurai who saw what he did to the thief, asks to be his apprentice. He refuses, but some gruff remarks from the passing Kikuchiyo apparently prompt him to change his mind.
He comes up with an ingenious way to get potential samurai to audition: having Katsushiro wait inside the door and whack them with a piece of wood. If they can stop him in time, they're in the club.
They pick up their first recruit this way: a friendly-faced dude named Gorobei.
Kambei picks up Samurai #4: an old friend named Shichiroji, who used to serve with him when they're lord was still alive.
Gorobei finds #5, Heihachi, chopping wood, again something no self-respecting samurai would do.
Kambei and Katsushiro locate their sixth, Kyuzo, cutting down a less skilled samurai in a straight-up duel.
Kambei doesn't want to waste any more time, and is prepared to make do with six. But he and his companions are interrupted by a drunken Kikuchiyo who claims he's a real samurai.
They thoroughly depants the "I'm a real samurai" notion, but he follows them to the village anyway.