An unnamed girl is Noboru’s date for the Tanabata Day festival. Like him, she is a university student who embraces the changes wrought by the modernization of Japan.
The protagonist of the story, Makiko is a young Japanese widow living in Kyoto, Japan after World War II. She struggles to raise her son Toshi to abide by and respect traditional Japanese values, as Japan becomes more and more Americanized during the post-war period. Makiko is also determined to make Toshi remember his father Yoshitsune, who was killed while fighting American soldiers during An interview with Waters by Stewart Wachs Kyoto Journal , Vol. 56, appears online at www.kyotojournal.org/kjselections/waters.html under the title “The Clarity of Double Vision: An Interview with Mary Yukari Waters.” The University of California at Los Angeles Asia Institute online magazine Asia Pacific Arts features a textual and real video interview with Waters at www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/article.asp? parentid=12287 under the title “The Laws of Mary Yukari Waters.” the war. Throughout the story, Makiko comes to terms with her own pre-war memories and nostalgia for easier and less complicated times.
Noboru is Makiko’s younger brother and Toshi’s uncle. An energetic second-year student at the local university, Noboru openly embraces the American-driven process of modernizing Japan. He argues with Makiko about this process, telling her that Japan needs to adapt to the modern world.
Toshi is Makiko’s seven-year-old son. He attends an elementary school subsidized by the American government. In spite of his mother’s instructions and wishes, Toshi inevitably absorbs the process of Americanization, eating snacks that the American government and soldiers give him and playing dodge-ball with his classmates.
A minor character, Mr. Watanabe is an elderly neighbor of Makiko and Toshi, whom they encounter briefly on the way to the Tanabata Day festival.
Yoshitsune is Makiko’s deceased husband, a Japanese soldier who was killed while fighting the Allied forces during World War II. Yoshitsune appears in the story only through Makiko’s memories of him, which focus on their brief marriage and his relations with Toshi.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 22, Mary Yukari Waters, Published by Gale Group, 2010