Kikue (Mitsuko Yoshikawa) works as a geisha, wears a modest wedding ring; her friend Terugiku (Sumiko Mizukubo) helps her pluck grey hairs. Kikue's son Yoshio (Akio Isono), a schoolboy, might be taken first for her husband, or lover, given the absence of another male in the household — it's 21 minutes into the film before the nature of their relationship is made clear.
Yoshio runs out after an argument with his mother and accompanies Terugiku — much closer to his own age — on a visit to her home village and family's house, at which point the film unloosens topographically, varying heights and vantages. It's revealed that Terugiku's geisha duties support her family — who register disappointment when their daughter asserts that she doesn't want sister Misako (old enough to have had her own baby) to become a geisha.
(The insert-shot and cut to the return-P.O.V., a face with a smile: a hallmark of the Japanese cinema.)
Upon return Yoshio is upbraided by his "gang" for his absence; a train passing in the background provides a grace note of remembrance for his time in the country with Terugiku.
The Shochiku sickbed motif is twice invoked — the second time, with superimposed (memory) montage, recalling the ghost-plane scene of Flunky, Work Hard.
Final grace note: at the end of the film, a cut to the clock in the train station displaying the time as 11:20am. There's no plot reason for the shot — Naruse is only showing us that when the train arrives, it's 11:20am.
Previous pieces on Naruse at Cinemasparagus:
No Blood Relation