The Sound of Waves

The Sound of Waves Character List


The protagonist of the novel, Shinji is eighteen years old, tall and well-built, and a fisherman on the Taihei-maru. While not particularly intellectual, Shinji is physically strong and capable. His life's goal is to work on a boat with his brother. He falls in love with Hatsue, an experience that he has never had before. Despite the fact that they are kept apart by her father, Terukichi, Shinji continues to pursue her. When he is offered an apprenticeship on one of Terukichi's ships, he embraces the new freedom he experiences and proves his mettle to the captain and crew. His "get-up-and-go" eventually wins him Terukichi's approval and Hatsue's hand.


A beautiful, charming, and sweet young girl, Hatsue returns to the island where she was born to live with her father. She is a talented diving girl and takes etiquette lessons from the lighthouse keeper's wife. She is thoughtful, sincere, funny, and sometimes shy. She and Shinji fall in love, but her strong moral code stops her from losing her virginity to Shinji.

Jukichi Oyama

The master fisherman and owner of the Taihei-maru, the ship Shinji worked on. He is elderly, wrinkled, tanned, and while he rarely laughs, is always in good spirits. He supports Shinji throughout his difficulties with Hatsue and gives him wise counsel.


Shinji's younger brother, Hiroshi is twelve years old and enjoys playing games with his friends. While excited to leave the island for a school excursion, he is not overly impressed with any of the historic sites, instead preferring his first experience of a movie theater.


Shinji's friend and fellow fisherman on the Taihei-maru. He is supportive of Shinji's courtship of Hatsue and volunteers to fetch her letters when that becomes their only form of communication.

Terukichi Miyata

Also known as Uncle Teru, Terukichi is the richest man on the island. After the death of his wife and son, he decides to take back the daughter, Hatsue, who he had originally given up for adoption. He is a strong, prideful man, but eventually allows Hatsue to marry Shinji in spite of his poor family, because he has "get up and go," and Hatsue loves him very much.


The daughter of the lighthouse keeper and his wife, Chiyoko is a university student in Tokyo. She is convinced that she is ugly and cannot help brooding upon it, and so often has a melancholy disposition. She has a crush on Shinji, leading her to cause problems for him and Hatsue when she sees them together acting romantically. After receiving the compliment she always desired from Shinji, she realizes her error and tries to fix the situation she created.

Yasuo Kawamoto

The leader of the Young Men's Association, Yasuo is nineteen, from a wealthy family, overweight, crafty, and red-faced. He wants to marry Hatsue and is enraged that Shinji wins her love. He spreads rumors of the lovers' trysts and helps to secure their separation. Eventually, he and Shinji serve together as apprentices upon the Utajima-maru, where Yasuo's natural laziness, apathy, and sense of entitlement reveal themselves.

The lighthouse keeper

The keeper of the lighthouse, who is never officially named, is a stern but kind man who patiently tolerates his wife's talkativeness. He delights in visitors and particularly likes Shinji, whose graduation from high school he helped secure.

The lighthouse keeper's wife

The mistress of the lighthouse, who is never officially named, is a kind but somewhat silly woman who voraciously seeks knowledge and delights in arguing with people. She was a teacher on the island in her youth, and now holds a class on etiquette for the island girls. She eventually champions Shinji and Hatsue's cause after her daughter, out of guilt, refuses to return to the island until the two lovers are reunited.

Shinji and Hiroshi's mother

Never officially given a name, Shinji and Hiroshi's mother is one of the best diving women on the island. Her husband died when her boys were young and she supported them single-handedly before Shinji took up fishing. She is quiet and strong, with frequent bouts of courage as well as depression. She fears the day when her sons will leave her but encourages them to take advantage of opportunities. She enjoys female companionship on the island, and laments the burdens that women have to bear.


A young school boy and one of Hiroshi's best friends.


A young school boy and one of Hiroshi's best friends.

The Captain

The captain of the Utajima-maru, the larger of Terukichi Miyata's two coastal freighters. A large, middle-aged man, the captain is both gentle and capable. Even though he is married with children, he maintains women in several ports. He considers Shinji a favorite and recommends him to Terukichi.