Norwegian Wood


  • Toru Watanabe (ワタナベ トオル, Watanabe Tōru) — The protagonist and narrator. He is a Tokyo college student of average ability, majoring in drama without reason or conviction for doing so. Unlike most students, he is interested in Western, and in particular, American literature. He is Kizuki's best friend, and develops romantic relationships with Naoko and, later, Midori.
  • Naoko (直子, Naoko) — A beautiful but emotionally fragile woman who is Kizuki's girlfriend, but becomes involved with Watanabe after Kizuki's death. Naoko's older sister took her own life at age 17, which, along with Kizuki's suicide, has a lasting effect on Naoko's emotional stability.
  • Midori Kobayashi (小林 緑, Kobayashi Midori) — A vivacious, outgoing classmate of Watanabe. She and her sister help their absent father run a small bookstore after her mother's death from brain cancer. She originally had a boyfriend but develops feelings for Watanabe as she gets to know him more, putting Watanabe in a tough situation.
  • Reiko Ishida (石田 玲子, Ishida Reiko) — A patient of the mountain asylum to which Naoko retreats. She and Naoko room together and become close friends. An accomplished pianist and guitarist, Reiko has endured lifelong mental problems that wrecked her professional musical career and later her marriage. She attempts to advise Watanabe and Naoko in their relationship.
  • Kizuki (キズキ, Kizuki) — Watanabe's best friend in high school, and Naoko's first boyfriend. Kizuki took his own life when he was 17, which has a lasting effect on both Watanabe and Naoko.
  • Nagasawa (永沢, Nagasawa) — A diplomacy student at the elite University of Tokyo whose friendship with Watanabe is kindled over The Great Gatsby, a book they love. Nagasawa is unusually charismatic and complex in both his ideals and personal relationships. Watanabe routinely accompanies Nagasawa on outings to bars, where they pick up girls for one-night stands. Nagasawa never seems to feel much guilt over these transgressions other than admitting that his girlfriend, Hatsumi, deserves better.
  • Hatsumi (ハツミ, Hatsumi) — The long-suffering girlfriend of Nagasawa. A kind woman by nature, she tries to offer advice to Watanabe, who is reluctant to confide in her or Nagasawa. Two years after Nagasawa leaves for Germany, Hatsumi marries, only to commit suicide after another two years. News of this prompts Watanabe to end his friendship with Nagasawa.
  • "Storm Trooper" (突撃隊, Totsugekitai) — Watanabe's dormitory roommate who is obsessed with cleanliness, and who is majoring in cartography in preparation for a career at the Geographical Survey Institute of Japan. His neurotic behavior is a source of annoyance and mockery among the others in the dormitory. He later moves out without warning, leaving their room entirely to Watanabe until he moves out of the dorm altogether.
  • Itoh — An art student whom Watanabe meets after moving out of the dorm he shared with Nagasawa and Storm Trooper. The two share a love of Boris Vian. He has a girlfriend in his hometown of Nagasaki, but her unease about Itoh's chosen career leads him to worry about their relationship.
  • Momoko "Momo" Kobayashi — Midori's sister.
  • Mr. Kobayashi — Midori's widowed father. Midori had initially said that he had emigrated to Uruguay, but that later turns out to be a joke; Mr. Kobayashi was actually in a hospital in Tokyo, with brain cancer. When Midori and Watanabe visit him, Watanabe briefly stays to take care of him alone. He later dies, and his daughters sell the bookstore to move elsewhere.

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