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It is the autumn of 1964. The Tokyo Olympics is close at hand but it does not feel quite real to 17-year-old Yatabe Mineko. Mineko grew up in a family of six in a mountain village in northeastern Ibaraki Prefecture. Tokyo seems like a different world even though it is also in Kanto because of the poor access to transportation. Her father Minoru has gone to Tokyo to work in order to earn money in order to pay off a debt made in a lean year. Once Mineko graduates from high school, she wants to help out in the farm work and give her grandfather Shigeru and mother Miyoko an easier life. However, her life completely changes when her father does not come back for the New Year. Mineko asks her family to let her go to Tokyo to find him and promises to send money home. She is certain that she will be able to meet her father some day once she is there. And so, Mineko and two childhood friends Tokiko and Mitsuo go to Tokyo as a group and start working at a small factory in the Sumida ward. Their first glimpse of Tokyo is beyond their imagination and they are constantly at a loss. The wages are low and the working hours are long. Although they occasionally seem disheartened by this reality, their dormitory mates who come from various parts of Tohoku and supervisor of the dormitory give them moral support. After work each day, Mineko searches for her father and gets disheartened at times. Then companies go bankrupt due to the recession after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the factory is shut down. Mineko has nowhere to go, but thankfully gets a job helping out at the Western restaurant Suzufuritei that her father had declared “delicious” in one of his stories about Tokyo. Everyone at the restaurant including the female proprietress Makino Suzuko and her son Shogo who is the chef, works her hard, but are soft-hearted and start to become like family. Mineko overcomes challenges and starts to lay down roots in Tokyo as she experiences many meetings and farewells amid the laughter and tears with regulars, people of the shopping street, friends and colleagues. Will she be able to find her father?

Arimura Kasumi as Yatabe Mineko
A third-year high school student who was born and grew up in a small farming family in Oku Ibaraki. She wants to be a woman like her mother Miyoko. She loves living in their village and intended to help her grandfather and mother and work in the fields after graduating from high school. At that juncture, her father Minoru who had gone to Tokyo to work, ends up missing and she decides to get a job and go to Tokyo. She starts working at a factory for transistor radios.

Sawamura Ikki as Yatabe Minoru
Yatabe Mineko’s father. He loves farming and truly wants to work in the fields in his hometown but he has been working at a factory in Tokyo for almost a year to repay a debt he took in a lean year. He is a gentle father who always thinks about his family even though he is away from them. However, there is no news from him after he says that he will return for the rice harvest.

Kimura Yoshino as Yatabe Miyoko
Yatabe Mineko’s mother. She is cheerful, talkative and a little playful. Besides farm work, she is also a hardworking person who tailors clothes on the side. She feels lonely because her husband Minoru is not at home, but puts on a brave and bright front before their children. In fact, his disappearance comes as a big shock to her but she believes that he is safe and keeps waiting for him.

Furuya Ikkou as Yatabe Shigeru
Yatabe Mineko’s grandfather. He is a man of few words but he is occasionally scathing when he talks. However, he truly understands the family the most and supports them by showing gentle concern. Because he devoted his life to farming, he feels sorry that his son Minoru has to work away from home. It appears that he was quite popular when he was young.

Sakuma Yui as Sukegawa Tokiko
Yatabe Mineko’s childhood friend and classmate. She is the most beautiful girl in the village and also strong-willed. Although her character is the exact opposite of Mineko’s, they are good friends who cannot do without each other. After graduating from high school, she begins working at a factory for transistor radios but dreams of becoming an actress some day.

Izumisawa Yuki as Sumitani Mitsuo
Yatabe Mineko’s childhood friend and classmate. She has unrequited love for Sukegawa Tokiko. Like Mineko, she loves Oku Ibaraki but she also cannot take over because her family has three sons. So it is decided that she will work at a Nihonbashi rice shop. Even after the three of them go to Tokyo, they maintain their friendship and encourage each other as they start to take their own paths.

Miyamoto Nobuko as Makino Suzuko
The owner of the Western restaurant Suzufuritei in Akasaka. She was born and raised in Akasaka. She had been running the restaurant opened by her father, together with her husband and son. But she lost her husband and the restaurant in the air raid. After the war, she worked hard and reopened it. The restaurant flourished and was loved by the townspeople as a place where real Western food can be eaten casually. Her interaction with the Yatabe family begins with Yatabe Minoru’s visit to the restaurant when he came to Tokyo to work. After Mineko comes to Tokyo, she pokes her nose into her affairs and provides her with a good deal of support.

Sasaki Kuranosuke as Makino Shogo
Makino Suzuko’s son. The chef of Suzufuritei. He and his mother have been running the restaurant after his father died. He has kept the flavours and is especially particular about the demi glace sauce. He is demanding when it comes to work but has a kind heart, and quietly watches over Mineko who searches for her father in Tokyo. His wife has passed away and their only tomboy daughter suddenly got married and left home. His mother wishes that he will remarry since he is still young but … …

Ryusei Ryo as Watahiki Masayoshi
A police officer who works at the 5-chome police box which is within the jurisdiction of the Akasaka Police Precinct. A native of Ibaraki Prefecture, he knows Yatabe Mineko who filed a missing person’s report on her father and offers to help with the search because he wants to be of use. He has a pretty diligent character but charms the female workers at the dormitory with his good looks.

Wakui Emi as Nagai Aiko
The supervisor of the dormitory of Mukojima Electronics where Yatabe Mineko works. She takes care of the 40-something factory workers who live in the female dormitory. She is like a mother as well as a teacher to female workers who came to Tokyo immediately after junior high school and high school graduation. When she was young, she worked at the same factory as Mineko and the other girls but seems to have gone through a lot of hardship because she was clumsy. She is often wanting and scatterbrained, but can be relied on when it counts. Her lover died in the war and she has still single even now.

Kanno Miho as Kawamoto Setsuko
A child star who became a popular actress. She visits Suzufuritei as a customer and meets Yatabe Mineko. She later saves Mineko at some place and the two of them form a strange connection.

Okada Yoshikazu (Kibougaoka no Hitobito, Kiseki no Hito)

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About jadefrost

This blog contains information and musings on current and upcoming Japanese dramas but is not intended to be comprehensive.
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