The First Story (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Seijuro, a handsome young man apprenticed to a shopkeeper. Reluctantly, he returns the love of his master’s sister. They elope and are discovered. Wrongly convicted of stealing money (actually mislaid), Seijuro is executed.
Onatsu, the shopkeeper’s sister, who is in love with Seijuro. After his execution, she goes mad for a time and later enters a nunnery.
The Second Story (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Osen, the young wife of a cooper. Wrongly accused of adultery by Chozaemon’s wife, she takes impulsive revenge by actually giving herself to him. Discovered by her husband, she commits suicide.
Chozaemon, a yeast maker and Osen’s partner in adultery, suspected and real. When his guilt is discovered, he is executed.
The Third Story (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Osan, a wife whose scheme to punish her maid’s reluctant lover by taking the maid’s place in bed runs counter to plan. She falls in love with him herself; after a period of hiding together in a distant village, they are found and executed.
Rin, Osan’s maid. She is a party to the scheme by which her lover is supposed to be punished.
Moemon, a clerk and Rin’s reluctant lover, who is the victim of the substitution. He falls in love with Osan. When caught, they are executed.
The Fourth Story (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Oshichi, a young woman. Having taken refuge in a temple after her house burned down, she falls in love with Onogawa, whom she meets there. Later, unable to see him, she decides to arrange another meeting by setting a fire. Discovered, she is burned at the stake.
Onogawa Kichisaburo, a young samurai whom Oshichi loves. Learning of her death, he contemplates suicide but finally becomes a monk.