This full-length romance novel traces more than three decades of love and loss among four men and women.
Junzo, a 53-year-old widower, leads a quiet life living with his son, a college student, and running a tailor's shop in Tokyo. In response to an urgent request from Takase?an old friend six years his senior, who had tracked him down by hiring a private investigator?Junzo visits his hometown in Nagano for the first time since graduating high school. The two are reunited for the first time in 28 years.
Their relationship goes back to the day when Takase came to buy a suit at the tailor where Junzo was apprenticing, but there is another connection: Takase's father bought the inn once owned by Junzo's father. Soon after the two first became acquainted, Takase married a woman named Mihoko, but he never ceased his womanizing on the side. Junzo, a quiet admirer of Mihoko, exchanged a steady stream of secret letters with her, even promising to run off with her if she left Takase. In the end, she ignored that pledge even while breaking off her relationship with Takase. Now, nearly 30 years later, Mihoko is living in Nagano, suffering from the neuromuscular disorder myasthenia gravis, and nurturing fresh feelings for Junzo.
Things grow still more complicated. Once in Nagano, Junzo reconnects with Kayo, a 39-year-old artist and the daughter of the manager of his father's old inn. The two of them become physically intimate, but Kayo has her own history: a miscarriage suffered after she became pregnant with Takase's child. The story comes to a close with the reason for Takase's urgent call: Takase will soon succumb to a terminal case of cancer, and wants Junzo to take care of Mihoko after he is gone.
Author Yoshinaga Fujita's deft touch in laying out the fine psychological details of the men and women in his tale show him to be a true master of his craft.