This portrait of postwar Japanese society as symbolically captured in the life of one family won the Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Prize in 1965.
Shunsuke Miwa is a university lecturer and translator who lives with his wife Tokiko and their two children. His serene life suddenly crumbles, however, when he learns that his wife has been having an affair with an American soldier. Shunsuke alternately upbraids and cajoles Tokiko to get her to confess her true feelings, to no avail. His efforts to repair the rift between them, although well-intended, often border on the pathetic and only disgust his wife.
Before long Shunsuke hits on the idea of fencing Tokiko behind a high wall erected around their home, but her opposition brings an end to that plan. The two eventually agree to build a fully air-conditioned, concrete-and-glass "American-style" dream house in the suburbs from which to start anew. But Tokiko is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes surgery while the house is being built. She spends most of her time in and out of the hospital even after the house is completed and dies without having lived there at all. After her death, the air conditioning breaks down and the roof springs leaks as the house falls apart, seemingly in reflection of the family's sorry state.
Desperate to resuscitate his family, Shunsuke seeks to remarry, but is unsuccessful this time as well. He finally has no choice but to stand by and watch his family disintegrate inside the house that he had built to bring everyone together.