Emi’s role in the plot may be perceived as mysterious to readers, as her brief interactions with Ichiro may, however Emi is the speck of hope that comforts Ichiro in his despair.
Emi is a close friend of Kenji, whose husband is in the army, and has left her lonesome. Ichiro meets Emi through Kenji, and the individuals quickly feel chemistry—so much so, that they spend a night together. After their intimate encounter, Ichiro feels that Emi may understand his struggles, and reveals his past to her. Both characters share the feeling that is abandonment. Emi, abandoned by love, and Ichiro, abandoned by the acceptance of society.
Both are lonely characters who seek comfort in one another because of their mutual solitude.The only time that Ichiro appears to be content in the plot is when Emi and himself go dancing after his mother’s death. Ichiro enjoys his time with Emi as the novel states: “He headed South, feeling the snug warmth of Emi close to him and immensely grateful that she had come…” (Okada 185-186). This is the first time that Ichiro has perceived life as this positive and the first time he expresses positive emotion. Emi acts as an escape for Ichiro, as her presence brings him with hope and fulfillment that he cannot get anywhere. With his mother and brother pitted against him, and a father that is present in physical form, but absent in emotional support, Ichiro cannot seek love in his family. Kenji is a great comfort for Ichiro, but his debilitating state along with his death leaves Ichiro lonely.
While they dance and talk, Ichiro tells Emi: “‘Keep talking’, he said, feeling immensely full and wanting that moment to last a lifetime.” (Okada 188). Emi is the only loving character in the story to Ichiro, and distracts Ichiro from the present troubles of his reality. In the end, she is the only character that could be emotional support for Ichiro, and is the light in the darkness.