As with much of director Yasujiro Ozu's
work, a plot summary of this film does not do justice to the
emotional power that Ozu lends to this sad, understated tale.
An elderly couple, Shukichi (Chishu
Ryu) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama), leaves their small
coastal village in southern Japan to visit their married children in
Tokyo. Their eldest son, Koichi (So Yamamura), a doctor
running a clinic in a working-class part of town, is too busy to
show them around town, and their eldest daughter is occupied with
her beauty salon. Only their widowed daughter-in-law, Noriko,
played memorably by
Setsuko Hara, is willing to take time off work to show the
couple the sights of Tokyo.
The older children arrange for their
parents to visit Atami Hot Springs, but the unimpressed couple soon
returns to Tokyo. Tomi stays with her daughter-in-law while
Shukichi goes out drinking with some of his buddies, and the bunch
complains about their vague sense of disappointment toward their
Later, he stumbles into his daughter
Shige's (Haruko Sugimura ) house late at night. On the way
back to their village, tragedy strikes. The callous inattention that
son and daughter paid to their parents becomes un-fixable.
Shige and Koichi quickly return to their busy lives in Tokyo after
the funeral, as Noriko and youngest daughter Kyoko (Kyoko Kagawa)