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In the spring of 1945, cherry blossoms flower in southern Sakhalin. For Tetsu Ezure and her sons, they symbolize hope. But the following August, the Soviet Union invades and they flee from Sakhalin. Barely managing to make it across the strait to Hokkaido, they make their way down the coast to Abashiri. Awaiting the battered family there is a life so harsh as to strain the imagination: cold and hunger through which they must struggle to survive. The younger son, Shujiro, now grown, returns from America. He returns to Abashiri for the first time in 15 years to find his older brother gone and his elderly mother living alone in poverty, still waiting for her husband to return. Shujiro decides to take her home and care for her. Tetsu, however, disappears, not wishing to cause problems for her successful son. Shujiro, in an effort to reach out, decides to accompany her, and the two set out around the vast plains of Hokkaido on a journey into the past. The journey, however, opens the door to some long-buried memories.