Madadayo follows the last two decades in the life of Hyakken Uchida (Tetsuo Matsumura), a writer and teacher who retires in the war years of the early 1940's. Beginning in the 1943 (the year Kurosawa made his first feature), the beloved teacher is joined by his students and colleagues each yeah for a birthday celebration, toasting "Mahda-kai? (Are you ready?)" to which his answer is always "Madadayo!" which means "Not yet!", acknowledging that death may be near but life goes on - it is both a triumphant denial of death and a gentle plea for more time.