The story takes place just before the Japanese invasion of China to annex Manchuria to Japan. In a small fishing village on Japan's west coast, a family decides to escape the imminent invasion and cruelty of the Japanese army. Only one member of the family decides to remain to look after the properties. Despite the coaxing that his remaining will bring him hardship and even death, the young man stays.
His needs, following the paths of the Buddhist priesthood are very meager and he likens his existence to the way of the birds and wildlife who toil all day so that they might live. He disdains the need for surplus and instead seeks only the food he needs for the day.
Alone, unlike his fellow villagers, he is suddenly confronted with the finding of a recently born child left outside his hovel.
The child, a female, assumes the living style of the poor farm...