In a small regional town in 1980s southern Japan, Sakutaro "Saku" Matsumoto and Aki Hirose, who were classmates all through junior high school, become high school students and then fall in love with one another. They share audio diaries, go on excursions together, and enjoy summer vacation. However, Aki soon finds herself suffering from Leukemia and begins to weaken day by day, rendering her unable to see Saku or go outside. Saku, desperate to take Aki to Uluru (Ayer's Rock) in Australia (the "Center of the World" in the Japanese title), a place she had wished to go to, desperately tries to achieve just that. Saku buys tickets to go, but Aki dies before boarding the plane.
Seventeen years later, as an older, sombre Saku trudges through everyday existence, the last tape of Aki's audio diary is suddenly unearthed, leading Saku back to his hometown in the south, and back into his memories of his last days with Aki.