The story depicts a year in the life of Yonosuke Yokomichi, who at age 18 leaves his native Nagasaki to attend college in Tokyo. He enrolls in the Business Administration Department of a private university with over 7,000 students and moves into an apartment in the suburbs. The time is April 1987, when the Japanese economic bubble is just beginning its rise. Also breaking into the narrative from time to time are the voices of people who knew him then, looking back from 20 years later. Although he is neither particularly good looking nor in possession of any special abilities, as he himself avows, Yonosuke does have a knack for meeting the right people and attracting opportunities, and step by step he establishes a firm footing for himself. A new friend drags him along to a samba dance group, where another member of the group connects him to a part-time job delivering room service on the night shift at a luxury hotel. In his love life, he pines at first for the classmate back home with whom he'd lost his virginity as a junior in high school, but then he falls one-sidedly for an older woman rumored to be a high-end call girl, before ultimately taking up with the heiress to a large fortune. Yonosuke's grandmother says approvingly, "He always seems a bit out to lunch, but that's why it's good that he’s not overly ambitious." The heiress with whom he breaks up after only a year says 20 years later, "He was always screwing up, but even so, he never let it keep him from saying yes instead of no." Bringing into relief the greatness of an ordinary man, who ultimately makes a name for himself as a news photographer, the story leaves the reader with a sense of exhilaration.