A man wins the lottery, making him an overnight millionaire, and over the next few weeks grapples with the question of whether money can buy happiness.
Kazuo is in his late thirties. A librarian during the day, he moonlights at a bakery at night. He must spend virtually every waking hour in pursuit of income in order to repay the ?30 million (about $250,000) in debts his brother left behind when he disappeared two years ago. Worn down by their lives of extreme austerity, he and his wife Masako had come to argue constantly, until some time ago Masako decided to leave, taking their six-year-old daughter Madoka with her.
After a lengthy separation, Kazuo gets to see Madoka and share a meal with her, but then feels utterly crushed when he realizes he can’t afford to buy his daughter a bicycle. As he stands in the mall feeling sorry for himself, an elderly couple he doesn’t even know hand him some tickets to the promotional lottery the mall is running, and his prize turns out to be ten tickets to the public lottery?one of which later wins him a jackpot of ?300 million (about $2.5 million).
His first thought is to pay off his brother’s debts in full and get his happy family back, but when he reads on the internet that big lottery winners and other people of wealth often fail to find happiness, he worries what it might mean and has second thoughts.
He decides to seek the advice of his best friend from college, Tsukumo, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years. A science and engineering graduate regarded as a genius, Tsukumo had launched a startup, achieved great success, and ultimately sold the business off to a telecommunications company, making him fabulously wealthy, with a net worth north of ?15 billion (about $125 million). Tsukumo and Kazuo invite guests and hold a party at Tsukumo’s posh high-rise apartment in central Tokyo, but then the following morning Tsukumo disappears with Kazuo’s ?300 million. Kazuo looks for leads on Tsukumo’s whereabouts by talking to three former top executives of Tsukumo’s company, all of whom were also made wealthy in the buyout, receiving over ?1 billion each. Thirty days later, when Kazuo is feeling all out of ideas, Tsukumo returns with Kazuo’s money.
Can money make a person happy? Two men who came by their wealth in very different ways?Tsukumo already had large stock holdings as a student, while Kazuo got a windfall in middle age?each grapple with the question of money and happiness. The contemplative undercurrent of this work of entertainment is likely to change how you look at the bills and coins that routinely pass through your hands.