When Takuro Yamashita (Koji Yakusho), a white collar worker, discovers his wife at home with a lover, he stabs her to death in a fit of rage. Eight years later, he is released from prison into the custody of a Buddhist priest. His most prized possession is his pet eel. Yamashita sets up a barbershop in a small seaside community. Although keeping to himself, he is befriended by an eel fisherman, a UFO lover, and several others.

Yamashita's life changes after he saves Keiki (Misa Shimizu), a young woman who has tried to commit suicide. Although she reminds him physically of his deceased wife, he yields to her pressure to give her a job at his barbershop. Then just when he begins to open up emotionally, two outsiders enter their lives, throwing everything into confusion. One is Keiki's old boyfriend who is trying to get his hands on her mother's money. The other is a former prison inmate who singles Yamashita out for harassment.

Shohei Imamura is one of Japan's finest filmmakers having directed The Ballad of Narayama and Black Rain. This excellent drama, based on a novel, reveals the beginning of a relationship between two souls who are trying to move beyond the wounds of the past. Imamura doesn't rush this process and even when things get messy near the end, Yamashita and Keiko water the seeds of love slowly, with respect.