Author: Sant Kyden
First published: Mukashigatari inazuma-byshi, 1806 (English translation, 1986)
Time: Fifteenth century
Sasaki Katsura, a young man, the elder son of a feudal lord and his late first wife. After a period of dissipation, Katsura, with the help of loyal friends and retainers, successfully foils a plot to prevent him from being named as his father's heir.
Sasaki Sadakuni, Katsura's father, a feudal lord of Yamato Province. For a time, he is deceived by the plot against Katsura. When the plot is revealed, however, he forgives Katsura and makes him his heir.
Kumode no Kata (Lady Spider), the present wife of Sadakuni and a plotter against Katsura. She wants her own son to be Sadakuni's heir.
Sasaki Hanagata, the twelve-year-old son of Lady Spider and Sadakuni.
Ich no Mae (Lady Ginkgo), Katsura's wife. Persecuted and abducted by her husband's enemies, she is rescued and finally reunited with her husband.
Tsukiwaka (Young-moon), the young son of Katsura and Lady Ginkgo. He is saved from attempted kidnapping and at last is restored to his parents.
Fuwa Dken (Road-dog), steward to the House of Sasaki. He is the chief villain, Lady Spider's co-plotter. Foiled in his attempts to discredit Katsura and to murder Lady Ginkgo and Young-moon, he is imprisoned after his plot is exposed.
Fuwa Banzaemon, Katsura's retainer and the son of Road-dog. He promotes Katsura's infatuation with a dancing girl whom he himself loves. Discharged, he commits a murder and hides out in the brothels of Kyoto.
Fujinami (Wisteria-wave), the dancing girl loved by Katsura and Banzaemon. She is killed by a loyal retainer of Katsura.
Sasara Sampachir, Katsura's loyal retainer. Having killed Wisteria-wave, he rescues Young-moon and goes into hiding under the name of Namuemon. Later he saves Young-moon's life by beheading his own blind son and identifying the head as that of Young-moon.
Kuritaro (Chestnut-son), Sampachir's blind son, sacrificed by his father in order to save the life of Young-moon.
Kaede (Maple), Sampachir's daughter, who is haunted by serpents. Having sold herself for a treasured painting previously stolen by a disloyal retainer of the House of Sasaki, she is cured of her affliction by the magical power of the painting.
Hasebe Unroku, a disloyal retainer. He steals the magic painting and disappears. Later, he is recognized as the perpetrator of a six-year-old robbery. Sampachir forces him to commit suicide to expiate his sins.
Nagoya Sansabur, a loyal retainer. Unsuccessful in his early efforts to reform Katsura, he engineers Young-moon's escape. It is he who finally locates Banzaemon and his gang.
Nagoya Saburozaemon, Sansabur's father, killed by Banzaemon.
Yuasa Matahei, a painter, the brother of Wisteria-wave. Impressed by Sampachir's loyalty and learning that Sampachir aided his wife when she was robbed six years before, he takes only symbolic revenge for the killing of Wisteria-wave: He assaults Sampachir's hat instead of his head.
Umezu Kamon (Good-gate), a hero-recluse. He rescues Lady Ginkgo from death at the hands of Road-dog. He is instrumental in restoring Katsura to his father's favor.
Sarujiro (Monkey-son), a street preacher and Sansabur's son. He saves Katsura's life at a temple festival.
Shikaz (Deer), Sansabur's faithful servant, who helps him search for Banzaemon.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa, under whose shogunship Sadakuni lives.
Hamana, the governor general with whose connivance Road-dog plans to take over his lord's domain.
Katsumoto, the new governor general, who backs Katsura in his attempts to return to paternal favor.