Father—the narrator’s father. His wife died about two years before the story opens, and his business has folded since the suicide of his business partner. He welcomes home his son, whom he has not seen for an unspecified period of time.
Mother—the narrator’s mother. She died two years earlier from eating a poisoned fish.
Son—the narrator of the story. He is returning home to Japan after living abroad in California for an unspecified period of time. While away, he was emotionally estranged from his parents.
Kikuko—the narrator’s sister. Several years younger than her brother, she is attending college in Osaka and making tentative plans to travel to California with her boyfriend.
Suichi—Kikuko’s boyfriend in Osaka. He represents the younger Japanese generation.
Vicki—the son’s former girlfriend in California. She represents Western values that the parents do not understand and that threaten their traditional way of life.
Watanabe—the father’s former business partner. He committed suicide and killed his family when his business failed.