Tane runs a small, cheap inn mostly frequented by amorous couples. The father of her three grown-up children is married to another woman and little more than a guest in the family. Despite all this though, they all make an effort to project a sense of respectability. Matsuko, the eldest daughter, gets engaged to her work colleague Kazuo, but when her family background is revealed, her fiancé submits to pressure from his mother and breaks off the relationship. Matsuko then moves to Kobe, where she finds work in a nightclub. When Kazuo is wanted by the police two years on because of a bribery scandal in his company, he hides out in her flat.
The film’s grim message is that the happiness of one generation threatens to stifle that of the other. At the same time, the children seem condemned to repeat the mistakes of their parents.
The inn’s neon sign and the train whistles from the nearby railway crossing mark the transition between the family cosmos and the hostile world around them, as well as standing for what cannot be said. A profoundly sad melodrama about a family falling apart and a tragic, fateful love.