1970s yakuza film icon Ken Takakura stars in this wildly popular film about an aging railroad attendant, based on a best-selling novel by Jiro Asada. Otomatsu Sato (Takakura) is the master of a train station of a mining town of Horomai in a remote corner of Hokkaido. The formerly prosperous town is dying and the rail line is scheduled to be discontinued. While standing on the deck facing the whipping winter winds with red flag in hand, he is haunted by memories. Seventeen years previous, his infant daughter died from an illness and his ailing wife (Shinobu Otake) followed soon thereafter. Now he is emotionally supported by Senji Sugiura (Nenji Kobayashi), a buddy from the days when Sato was an engineer, and by tart-tongued restaurant owner Mune Kato (Tomoko Naraoka). Though Sugiura offers him a job at the hotel he is to manage, Sato cannot quite bear to part with the station -- and his memories. One day, he encounters a mysterious lass (played by idol Ryoko Hirosue) with a passion for trains. She also bares an uncanny resemblance to his dead daughter. Soon, Sato's life changes in unanticipated ways. (Takakura) received a Best Actor award at the 1999 Montreal Film Festival for his performance.