Our story begins in a courtroom on Day 1 of a murder trial. A Japanese American fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto, is accused of murdering fellow fisherman Carl Heine, Jr.
Then we "zoom out" and get some details about the town where the story takes place and the townspeople attending the trial.
One of the people sitting in the courtroom gallery, Ishmael Chambers, is a reporter who knows Kabuo.
The narrator describes a strangely intense encounter that took place between Ishmael and the defendant's wife, Hatsue, in the courthouse hallway that morning. He had tried to make sure she was okay, and she just turned away from him, imploring him to go away—like, multiple times. Hmm, we wonder why things are so intense between those two…