at the KOIN school, a paper plane glides to the ground from a classroom in the building. a man is walking into the school. he enters the 2-1 classroom. he's a teacher.
some teacher. the students ignore him. he introduces himself, ozu, to himself. a mobile phone rings in the classroom (not his), and he asks for it to be turned off. the blonde haired student, akimoto, asks why and he says it's because he's teaching. he is ignored. a girl student, haruka, asks akimoto to go out to continue his call, and he obeys her! ozu asks him to stay (and not use his mobile) and is told to shutup! he goes anyway.
he thinks: how did i end up here
flashback to 2000 september ------------------------------------
new york. he's wheeling and dealing in the capital of the finance world. he's in charge of the branch of his bank in America. asked by the top management to do 'whatever it takes', he is caught by the FBI and sentenced to jail.
flashback continues to 2001 august
done his time in america, he is in such good spirits he can just give his expensive watch to the guards as a present.
he pops into Koyo Bank's american branch, as if nothing's happened, only to get thrown out. he'd been fired.
so he flies back to Tokyo to get reinstated. only to find the company's top management has been reshuffled. he looks for a good friend in the bank, who tells him he has no place in the finance world anymore.
ozu is angry that he is made to be a scapegoat.
he returns to his posh apartment. his wife is surprised to see him, cos she had sent him divorce papers while he was in jail. she had been hounded by the press, when the news broke. for the sake of their daughter, she had to divorce him. there's still this strong stigma attached to convicts in japan. and pretty much everywhere else too. better dead than alive.
so he leaves home, and looks for jobs with the other banks.
at a bar, a drunk man in a group recognized him from the papers and was very rude to him. one of the group apologized on his behalf and they left. he then went up to his hotel room, when he received a call from the other bank - they cannot use him.
so he returns to Koyo, where his friend has found him a job as a teacher. he rejects that and returns home. his daughter, eri, came home, and didn't want to acknowledge him. she calls him a ghost (yurei - pronounced "you"-"ray") and runs out of the room in tears. she had been bullied in school because she's the daughter of a convict.
finally facing up to reality, he signs the divorce papers and leaves his home forever. his wife is very sad to see him go
back at the hotel, he is asked to pay his bill for the past week.
he calls up his friend in the bank, and accepts the teaching post. alone in his room, he cries out.
so the next day, he goes to the school, and meets 2 of the drunken party last night. they are cleaning graffiti off the school wall. they introduced themselves as teachers.
in the principal's office, a woman is complaining of stomach pain and wants to miss school. her father is the principal.
ozu enters, and she gets up. they recognise each other from last night. so she's a teacher too, and under her own dad!
she, shikamatsu, runs to report this to kato, the teacher who was drunk last night. kato was viewing sexy pics on his computer, and was shocked to see her unexpectedly. he stood up to conceal the monitor screen from her. fortunately, she was too distracted to notice what's on his computer.
hearing her report, he runs to the principal's office, sure that ozu's out to get him. to extort money. kato threatens to call the police to get ozu out.
as ozu has already spoken with the principal, he decides to call it a day and takes his leave.
kato relaxes when he sees ozu leave. he didn't hear the principal clearly when he told him the 2 of them will teach the same batch of students (2-1 classroom). he says okay before he realised what happened.
ozu's walking out of the school, when he was attracted to the sound of running feet. he walks round to the basketball court, and watches the kids play. he didn't even notice when kato turns up. kato tells him the lady teacher in charge, ashikaga, is real cute. no wonder you're engrossed.
only now does he direct his eyes towards the lady teacher, and we get to see her face. she's recognised him from last night. she had to knock some sense into the drunk teacher then, so he complimented her on her strength.
ozu noticed some boys hanging around the court, and asks who they are. kato tells him they are the boys team, and he's in charge, although he doesn't know how to play basketball, much less coach. he just wants to use the opportunity to get close to ashikaga.
ozu watches them 'train', then leaves
the 2 teachers go for a drink after work, as is the custom of Japan. at the bar, NBA was showing, and ozu watched intently. kato then realised ozu likes basketball. ozu tells kata he was a banker, and is only teaching to make a living.
just then, the boys team turns up. ozu asks why the team doesn't train, and a boy replied it makes them sweaty and tired. they leave the bar. just before they leave, imoto calls him a ghost.
i suppose if i am being punny, that's Ghost II, the movie they never made with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.
he pops over to kato's bachelor pad for a drink. finds out kato keeps lots of expensive model toys and has never had a girl in his flat. ozu tells kato he wants to nap a while, and not to worry, he's not gay.
he dreamt about the past, and wakes up in the middle of the night. he goes back to the school, and picks up the basketball in the court and starts to bounce it.
the sound startles ashikaga, who was working late at night, and she goes to investigate.
he stopped bouncing the ball, lost in his memories. he was about to shoot the hoop, when ashikaga appeared and turned on the lights. at that point, they recognised each other. he's not an intruder.
so she jokes that she thought there might be a ghost around. it's a touchy word for him, so he asks her if he's like a ghost. so she says it's in jest. he asks again, and she avoids the question.
flashback over --------------------------------------------------
imoto, the boy who called him a ghost, is the one flying paper planes. ozu tells him to stop but is powerless.
then another boy, okubo, uses the phone. he confiscates it, then lays down the rules. as he finished, okubo came up to him and fought him for the phone. ozu lost. so much for the rules.
he gets up, then tells the class to call him mr ozu, and not "sensei" ("san"-"say") - teacher. imoto asks him what he's doing as a teacher? he has no answer.
in his mind, the answer is, he wants to find out if he's really a ghost. as far as Japan society is concerned, he has ceased to exist.