An aging man in a dying town tries to sort out the loose ends of his life, with tragic results, in this drama. Nobuo (Ken Ogata) is an elderly man living in a remote village on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, known for its punishing winters.
While the community was once prosperous thanks to the fishing trade, the harbors no longer yield many fish, and as a result the village has fallen on hard times.
Nobuo once earned his living making sake, but most of his customers have moved away, and since the death of his wife, he's stopped working and spends his days walking the wind-swept streets of his town.
Nobuo has two sons -- Ryoichi (Teruyuki Kagawa), who has struggled unsuccessfully in the city to make a career as a musician, and Yasu (Yasufumi Hayashi), who watches over his ailing father, much to the consternation of his girlfriend Keiko (Fusako Urabe), who wants to move to a city with better prospects.
One of Nobuo's few pleasures in life is visiting a salmon breeding pond, where he likes to talk with Michiko (Sayoko Ishii), an attractive young woman whom Nobuo likes to imagine is infatuated with him.
Nobuo tries to bring his two sons together for a family reunion, but both siblings have more than their share of bitterness over the hand life has dealt them, and before the evening is over everyone reveals their secrets.