Junji Sakamoto spins this tale of a socially inept yet indomitable woman searching for freedom and self-respect. Set in Kobe at the beginning of 1995, the film introduces Masako (Naomi Fujiyama), a withdrawn, middle-aged woman living above her mother's dry cleaning shop. She rarely leaves the house and is often tormented by her pretty younger sister. After their mother suddenly dies, the sisters' sibling rivalry takes a rather nasty turn. Immediately after the funeral, Masako strangles her sister in an explosion of rage and humiliation. Just as she stumbles into life on the run, the Kobe earthquake strikes. Terrified that the disaster is some divine retribution for her crime, she flees willy-nilly to Osaka, where, after losing her virginity to a rape, she finds shelter and eventually employment at a "love hotel." When the owner of that establishment hangs himself to escape a mountain of bad debt, Masako flees to Beppu on the southern island of Kyushu. There she falls in love with a down-and-out salesman and finds camaraderie with a world-weary bar owner. In spite of the constant air of violence and the occasional rape, Masako blossoms in her new surroundings until her past -- and the police -- start to catch up with her. This film was screened at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival.