Hanako grew up in Tanabe and Koushi grew up in Tanabe. Koushi had Hanako’s father as a math teacher for a while. At a young age he would never have thought that he would fall in love with his teacher’s daughter. But that’s what happened.
After deciding against taking on his father’s job as a farmer, Koushi chose to train at a bank. Just like Hanako. To her father’s dismay, she refused to go to Osaka to study. Instead, she wanted to stay in the provinces and begin an apprenticeship in banking.
Hanako and Koushi hadn’t spoken a word to each other yet, when their colleagues already started rumoring that they would like each other. During a break they spoke to each other for the first time. After a company party, Koushi brought Hanako home.
Hanako’s family lived in a mansion in the center of town. The house of Koushi’s family, however, was in a valley at the gates of Tanabe.
After they got married, Hanako gave birth to two children, a son and a daughter. She stayed home to take care of the children. Koushi worked in a bank. Then Koushi’s father died. And with his death the question arose what should become of the family farm. The farm produced ume, a sour type of plum that is used to make schnapps. Keeping the farm was not a question of money. There was not much money to be made from selling ume to the cooperative. It was a matter of tradition.
Once before, Koushi had decided against taking over the farm. That was a long time ago. Now he had a wife, he had two children, and together they had two cars and a house in the city. He had traveled extensively several times. First alone, then with the family. They had been in Europe, they had been at a small mountain lake in the Andes. That was how he had always imagined life.
Koushi was insecure like never before in his life. He withdrew. More and more often he went to the mountains and fishing. The presence of people bothered him. He asked his boss about a break, who granted him a year. During this time, Koushi changed. He hardly left the house anymore. He grew a beard.
For Hanako a test of character began. She had never doubted her love for Koushi. Now he was becoming a stranger to her. She avoided the neighbors’ questions about her husband. When her mother called, she didn’t answer. Although Hanako’s heart grew cold, she did not break with Koushi. Their love was too strong to die out.
After a year, Koushi appeared for breakfast with three presents. He gave one to the son, one to the daughter, and one to Hanako. His face was clean-shaven. Insecurely, he asked Hanako if she wanted to move to the country with him. He had decided to continue the father’s farm. The relief Hanako felt showed in the tears on her cheeks.