Original Title
Shiroi Inu to Waltz wo
Production Year
Running Time
Tatsuya Nakadai

When love is true, miracles do happen.
What if the one who was smiling yesterday suddenly leaves you forever? Your wish to see them again sinks in and the loved one comes back before you in another appearance. In the morning breeze that ruffles curtains in the windows. Or in a butterfly that flutters past you. Or ....

The story starts as a white dog suddenly comes into the life of an aged man who recently lost his wife. Life with the dog gradually helps to heal the heart of the old man. It appears the dog may actually be a reincarnation of his wife. In order to fulfill her last wishes, the man takes the dog with him on a pilgrimage to the grave of his son. Is the white dog an illusion or is it really his wife coming back to him? The answer is truly given as the end credits roll.

Tatsuya Nakadai ("Kagemusha"), in one of his most moving performances, shows us how to love and how to live. The director is Takashi Tsukinoki, surprisingly a debut, but already a well-known director inside the Japanese film industry for his works as chief assistant director under some of Japan's leading directors such as Shohei Imamura, Kihachi Okamoto and Takeshi Kitano.
My wife suddenly dies leaving me with happy memories of our long married life. My wife, Mitsue, married me after she gave up her dream to become a nurse 40 years ago. I was a gardener then. I worked hard at my job while she tended the house and raised our children. Thanks to her dedication I was able to become a competent tree surgeon.

That morning, as always, my wife saw me off as I drove up into the hills to our tree plantation. When I returned home her smiling face was not there to greet me. I went looking for her into the garden and was shocked to see her collapsed on the ground. At the hospital my wife gained consciousness for a short time. She was trying to say something, she held up three fingers. I told her not to worry and she looked content as the life force in her quietly expired. I can barely remember what I did the night before the funeral. What I do recall is that a very old friend of my wife's, a Korean, cried throughout the night.

Our bedroom, so full of the memories of my wife, was a difficult place for me to be in, so I decided to sleep in the workshop behind the house from that night onwards. It was then I began to see the white dog. At first she merely passed by the door, pausing as if looking in to see how I was doing. In that one fleeting moment I was filled with knowledge and I knew the white dog and I were somehow part of a whole.

The day after the funeral everyone went home and I was left alone. My daughter Emi, a divorced single mother, offered to move in with me. I was touched by her offer but I am too set in my ways to need a daughter's help. Shuichi, son of my wife's Korean friend, came home to say farewell to my wife who had taken care of him. He used to work as a trainee under me. It was an awkward reunion for us since we had parted on bad terms.

Shuichi's smoldering anger surfaced when he said "You think I should have died, not Eiichiro." Eiichiro being my son who had died when a log had fallen on both boys many years ago. Shuichi felt guilty that he had lived while my son died. It was then I realized what Mitsue had meant by showing those three fingers before she died. My wife and I sworn we would be buried under the cherry tree where our long dead son slept patiently waiting for us.

When I feel lonely, the white dog always appears to stand alongside me. One day she stood on her rear paws and reached out to me. I grabbed them and danced as I had danced together with my wife when we were young. The white dog never appears when I am with someone. My daughters worry that I am losing my mind. They think I cannot separate reality from dreams.

The memorial day service is approaching and I decide to take a trip to fulfill my wife's last wishes. I'll drive my old truck to the cherry tree where Eiichiro sleeps and I'll bury Mitsue's ashes alongside him. I am not sure whether I can find the place as the mountains have changed in the past 20 years. If I tell my daughters, they would protest, so I will go on my own. The white dog seems pleased to accompany me on the long journey up into the mountains, just as my wife would...

I sit back, enjoying the breeze that strokes my cheeks. Now I feel the closeness with my wife. She will be with me, sitting by my side. As always, from now to forever.