Ohba Minako (Yuko Tanaka), a 50 year-old Japanese woman, drinks beer with her elderly aunt, enough to cause her to sprawl slightly in her aunt’s living room towards the end of the evening. Her aunt raises the subject of Minako’s early romance with “the painter’s son”, but Minako claims not to remember. This is a touching evasion, tantamount to a confession. Who can forget her early romances?
Minako lives alone. She delivers milk on foot in the early mornings to the households that are built cheek to jowl on the steep hillsides of her town. During the day, she works as a cashier at a local supermarket. In her own time, she reads.
Her aunt, a writer, is one of her customers on her early morning rounds. Her aunt also takes care of her husband who was a professor of English but now suffers from severe dementia. She has been approached to write about her experiences with her ailing husband, but she remarks that she does not want to write about her own experiences, “but a story about a woman of 50 in love”.
When she was still a schoolgirl, Minako resolved never to leave her city; she wanted to know its people as she and they got older; she believed that such a thing would be wonderful. She lives out this ideal, not just by remaining in her home town, but by delivering bottles of milk every morning.