The story of a Japanese couple in the years 1993 to 2001. Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s tale of one couple’s love for each other and their private tragedies also reflects a piece of recent Japanese history. It is the year 1993 and Shoko and Kanao decide to make a concerted effort to start a family. Having sex according to a timetable is far from easy as long as Kanao earns a living as a casual cobbler and Shoko works as a proof reader for a small publishing house. One day Shoko does fall pregnant and Kanao finds a position as a court illustrator. But their happiness is short-lived: their child dies shortly after birth. At work Kanao encounters the breadth of Japan’s social upheaval – its precarious economy and its sensational criminal cases, such as the proceedings against the perpetrators of poison gas attacks in Tokyo in 1995. Meanwhile, at home in their new apartment, Shoko finds herself suffering from depression. When she falls pregnant once more she decides to abort the child – without telling her partner. Her low spirits are now compounded by deep-seated feelings of guilt. Kanao’s career flourishes. Shoko, on the other hand, has to give up her job and begin psychiatric treatment. A course of therapy at a Buddhist temple where she begins to paint still lives gradually helps her to regain her health and, at the end of the 1990s, find renewed hope.
by Ryosuke Hashiguchi
with Tae Kimura, Lily Franky, Mitsuko Gaisyo