Shinji Kubo is the protagonist of the novel. A humble young fisherman’s apprentice, he spends his days working hard on a fishing boat alongside his fellow apprentice Ryuji and his master Jukichi. Shinji is… read analysis of Shinji Kubo
Hatsue Miyata is the beautiful, brave, sensitive daughter of Terukichi Miyata, one of the wealthiest men on the small island of Uta-jima. At the beginning of the novel, Terukichi calls Hatsue home years after… read analysis of Hatsue Miyata
Yasuo Kawamoto is the brash, braggadocious, and entitled president of Uta-jima’s Young Men’s Association. A member of a relatively wealthy and powerful family on the island, Yasuo talks endlessly of his sexual exploits and banal… read analysis of Yasuo Kawamoto
Shinji’s mother is a widowed woman raising her two young sons as best as she can. A seasoned pearl-diver, she is athletic, brave, and deeply devoted to her family’s well-being. She has a very… read analysis of Shinji’s Mother
The lighthouse-keeper operates the lone lighthouse on the island of Uta-jima. A quiet and thoughtful man who is deeply dedicated to his wife and his daughter, Chiyoko, he has a curious and tender soul… read analysis of The Lighthouse-keeper
The Lighthouse-keeper’s Wife
The lighthouse-keeper’s wife is a kind, warm, and chatty woman who is devoted to her family. Though she is occasionally sucked in by gossip, rumor, and any whiff of a scandal, she ultimately has a… read analysis of The Lighthouse-keeper’s Wife
Chiyoko is the insecure, anxious, jealous daughter of the lighthouse-keeper and his wife. Chiyoko attends university in Tokyo—she is one of the few people Shinji knows who has left Uta-jima. Chiyoko harbors intense feelings… read analysis of Chiyoko
Hiroshi is Shinji’s younger brother. He is excitable, impetuous, and occasionally a bit greedy. He enjoys stirring up trouble so that he can temporarily get Shinji in trouble and become his mother’s favorite. Hiroshi… read analysis of Hiroshi Kubo
Jukichi Oyama is a master fisherman and the owner of the fishing rig called the Taihei-maru, or “calm circle.” Jukichi is an older man whose quiet disposition, sunburnt skin, and profound dedication to the… read analysis of Jukichi Oyama
Ryuji is the other apprentice fisherman who works on the Taihei-maru. Like Shinji, Ryuji is shy and deferential, devoted to learning the lessons of the sea from their master Jukichi. When push… read analysis of Ryuji
The captain, an employee of Terukichi Miyata, is the captain of the Utajima-maru, a large lumber freighter. A wise and observant man, the captain carefully observes both Shinji and Yasuo on their journey… read analysis of The Captain
Sochan is one of Hiroshi’s friends. While playing a game in some dark caves, Sochan suggests that the sea-god is sending waves to ruin their fun because Hiroshi’s brother Shinji slept with Hatsue outside of wedlock, demonstrating his superstitious, gossipy, and confrontational nature.
Katchan is one of Hiroshi’s friends. He works to keep the peace between Hiroshi and Sochan.
The peddler is an old, wizened, sunburnt man who comes to Uta-jima each summer to sell his flashy fabrics and accessories to the pearl-diving women of the island.
The priest is the spiritual leader of the Yashiro Shrine, a shrine housed on Uta-jima and dedicated to a sea-god.