Chiyoko grew up in the middle of World War II Japan running a sweets shop with her controlling mother when she is approached by the director of a film studio and is asked to perform in the studio039s upcoming movie. Chiyoko039s mother without a word from Chiyoko steps in and bluntly turns them away calling acting a quotdubious profession.quot Later the same day Chiyoko is accidentally knocked down by a mysterious man running from police officers. Despite his hurried state he takes the time to help Chiyoko to her feet and apologize for running into her. This act of kindness sticks out to Chiyoko and so she sends the officers away from the man as he hides. She allows the man to stay in her store room in secret where he tells her stories of his home and how he hopes to finish his painting of the snowy landscape once the war is over. Chiyoko is soon introduced to a skeleton key around the man039s neck which he addresses as the key to quotthe most important thing there is.quot Chiyoko asks that the man wait until the next day to tell her what the most important thing is. Unfortunately this chance never comes. Chiyoko returns to school to find the police discovered the man hiding in her store room and finds his key outside covered in blood from the man039s injuries. The store clerk hints to Chiyoko that he fled to the train station and Chiyoko hurries to follow him. She ultimately does not make it in time to stop him and makes a promise that she will return the man039s key to him no matter what. This drives her to sway from her mother039s wishes and Chiyoko begins making movies.