This is the follow-up to the metaphysical mystery Tomoe (Triangle) from 2001. The protagonist/narrator is Sakomura, a university economics teacher in his forties. One summer Sakomura quits his job and drifts into a town on an island at the tip of a peninsula on the Inland Sea. His plan is to spend a relaxing month by the seaside while pushing ahead with his translation of the biography of an 18th-century British politician. In the beginning, he stays in a traditional Japanese inn, but after starting a relationship with Shu Fen, a young Chinese waitress in a local Vietnamese restaurant, moves in with her instead. They share an old European-style house with four lively boys and girls of around ten years old who are not Shu Fen's biological children. As Sakomura's stay lengthens, he gets to know some of the island's mysterious inhabitants: Togawa, a wealthy old tea-ceremony master; Togawa's daughter Kayo, a contemporary dancer; Mukai, a former student of his who hopes to turn the island into a leisure resort; and Loku, a Chinese fortune teller who is Shu Fen's grandfather. Sakomura also starts to uncover secrets beneath the placid surface of things. It turns out that he is the dupe of Mukai and Shu Fen, who are long-time lovers engaged in trafficking Asian children. As winter comes and he finishes his translation, Sakomura resolves to leave the island, only to have the bridge linking the island to the peninsula burn down. This is a novel of intoxicating power that draws the reader deep into a labyrinthine mystery.