Written in emotionally charged prose, this provocative novel?explores the place of sex, including sadomasochism, in the relationship between husband and wife. Asako is the only daughter of a Tokyo kimono merchant, an enterprising woman with a strong sense of honesty and fairness. Taking some kimonos collected by her late grandfather as her initial stock, she launches a second business that deals in antique kimonos, separate from the longstanding family trade. Chisa, daughter of the owner of a major mortuary company in Kyoto, is the very model of demure Kyoto beauty. But when she was young, her uncle initiated her into secret pleasures, and it has left her incapable of being satisfied by ordinary sexual relations, even in her marriage. Her husband, Masataka, is an ambitious man who sleeps with a hospital head nurse in order to get funeral business steered his way. Asako's husband, Seiji, is the marketing director for a bridal company, and chafes at his wife's unconscious superciliousness on the one hand and her artless naivety on the other. When Masataka approaches Asako to offer her some kimonos left to Chisa by her aunt and uncle, it brings the two couples together. The relationships among the four become increasingly tense and are wrapped in a web of secrets as Masataka begins seeing Asako, and Seiji becomes intimate with Chisa . . .