The characters in Obasan are part of Naomi's Japanese-Canadian family.

Its members fall into three major groups, depending on their birth place and, consequently, nationality.

The "Issei" are first-generation Japanese-Canadians, Japan-born emigrants living in Canada. Their children are the "Nisei" or second-generation Japanese-Canadians, Canadian-born people with Canadian nationality, and the "Nisei"'s children, the "Sansei", or third-generation Japanese-Canadians.

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