Mr Watanabe suddenly finds that he has terminal cancer. He vows to make his final days meaningful. His attempts to communicate his anguish to his son and daughter-in-law lead only to heartbreak.
Finally, inspired by an unselfish co-worker, he turns his efforts to bringing happiness to others by building a playground in a dreary slum neighbourhood.
A thoughtful, existential meditation about the meaning of life and what constitutes a life well-lived, Ikiru is almost guaranteed to prod the viewer to examine his or her own mortality and ponder how, in the end, the scales will tip.