Grade-schooler Hibari and her grandmother Sumire are the best of friends. When they find a bird’s egg nearby, they take it home and keep it warm until it hatches. It turns out to be a cockatiel. They name it Ribbon, and take good care of it, but then one day Ribbon escapes from her cage and flies away.
Ribbon meets a variety of people, including a woman who is unable to move past her grief a year after giving birth to a stillborn son, a gay man who works at a bird shelter, and an elderly artist who’s been told she has only a short time left to live. All those who meet and befriend the orange-cheeked Ribbon renew their zeal for living.
Twenty-some years pass from the day Ribbon fled her cage, and a great deal happens to Hibari’s family in the interim. They move to a new house, where the grandmother dies. Hibari graduates from college and strikes out on her own as a working woman, but when a secret love affair she has ends badly, she gives up her full-time position to eke out an existence at lesser jobs. As time goes by after her grandmother’s passing, she decides to visit the area where they lived when she was a child. She finds the neighborhood completely changed, with a highrise luxury apartment building standing where their home used to be. Then she sees a bird perched in a large tree. "Ribbon," she calls to it, and the bird alights on her shoulder. "Hibari." Faintly, she hears Ribbon speak her name, recalling her grandmother’s voice. She realizes Ribbon and her grandmother’s spirit are trying to cheer her up. Having rekindled a zest for life in Hibari, Ribbon flies off again into the heavens.