The setting is a large Western style house seemingly too grand for such a country town. Living in this house is the owner of a trading company named Sadao. His wife, Chiho, used to be the tutor of Sadao’s younger brother, Noboru, who secretly still has a crush on her. The whole play takes place in Noboru’s richly furnished second-floor room in this house. Throughout the play, all the characters speak with an accent of Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture.
It is night and Noboru is in bed with a cold. Chiho comes to his room and, while also showing showing concern for his cold, she shows him a leaflet for a part-time job. Noboru is virtually a neet, living at home and not in education, employed or in training. He has too much pride to allow him to go out and take the first step toward getting a job because of his fear of failure. He is the epitome of an indecisive young man. His response to the job possibility is again indecisive and as the stage lights fade out he lies back in bed as if succumbing to a fever.
When the lights come up again the scene is a night seven years earlier. Noboru is drinking with his friend Akkun, Yaasuke and Nikki. It seems that these three friends in their mid-20s are concerned about Noboru and his older brother who continue to live in the protected comfort of their parents’ home. Noboru is told the rumors that his brother is dating Chiho, and also that, because she needs money, Chiho will sleep with anyone who will offer her financial security.
Just then Sadao comes home with Chiho and announces that he is going to marry her and take over the management of their father’s trading company as their father had hoped. Knowing that Noboru had been planning to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over management of the company, and had been studying management for that purpose, Yaasuke nudges Noboru, asking him if he doesn’t have anything to say in response to his brother’s pronouncement. But Noboru leaves the room, as if he wishes to avoid a situation. At that point the stage darkens to end the scene.
The scene returns to the present. Like
, the previous scene of Chiho’s concern for Noboru is repeated. But, Noboru shyly professes that if Yaasuke hadn’t been teasing him at that moment seven years ago he might have been able to tell his brother what he really thought. At that point his brother, Sadao, comes home and adds a decisive punch by telling Noboru that he has got to get a job, no matter what it may be. Non-committal as always, Noboru lays back in bed as the stage lights fade to end the scene.
Again the scene is a night seven years earlier. And again the return of Sadao and the exchange that occurred the earlier scene is repeated. But this time Yaasuke is nowhere to be seen, but even without Yaasuke’s interference the indecisive Noboru was unable to confront his brother at the time of his marriage announcement and speak his mind. The scene ends with no decisive action by any of the characters.
Returning to the same night in the present and another repetition of the previous scene, we learn two new things about what lies in Chiho’s heart: the fact that in the past she wanted to flee from the realities of her life and the fact that her present husband, Sadao, has a young lover. Here the scene ends.
Once again the scene is a night n the past. Nikki isn’t satisfied with the idea a life of carrying on the family farm business and announces that he has a plan to re-develop the area in front of the town’s station. But Noboru quickly shoots down that idea as an unattainable dream by listing all the hurdles that would have to be overcome. The self-important Noboru releases his frustration against his brother as well in the form of childish arguments. He tells Sadao that the only reason he had taken over the family business was because it simply easier than the bother of getting involved in some form of outside work, not because he really respected and liked his father’s work. Here the scene ends.
The next scene returns to the night of the present. Feeling that his brother stole both the job he wanted and Chiho from him, Noboru pleads with Chiho to leave Sadao and start a new life with him. Chiho accepts with resignation, but still Noboru can’t do anything. Sadao returns at that point and rebuffs Noboru with the words, “I didn’t want to take over the business. I had to do it because the company was failing. I went out and found new clients, I went around to all my friends and begged them to lend us money. Could you have done that!” Hearing these harsh words, Noboru realizes how flippant, abject and escapist he had been all along. The world is a frightening place, but it is also the place where everyone lives. The lights go out and the scene ends.
Again it is the night in the past. Learning that his brother has taken the work he wanted, Noboru tries to drown his disappointment in the alcohol that he, Akkun, Yaasuke and Nikki had been drinking, even though he doesn’t have much tolerance for alcohol. As he gets drunk he lets out some of the things he had been afraid to admit before, and he is able to laugh a little. The scene ends with a feeling that some small bit of release and opening up has occurred.
It is now the morning of the next day in the present. Sadao offers words of encouragement to Noboru, telling him to overcome his fears that he won’t be useful in any job and just go out and find any kind of work. If things don’t work out well at first, it doesn’t matter. One thing will lead to another and paths will open up for him eventually. With the Help Wanted ads in hand, Noboru heads toward town. From a send-floor window, Sadao and Chiho watch as he walks down the road.