The Meiji Era: People and Characters
Many books about Japan involve a Western foreigner coming to Japan and being amazed at all the odd things he (it's invariably a "he") doesn't understand about the people, the society and the culture. These are almost always the same things. If the book is written about Japanese characters, too often bits of the author's culture are imposed, without the author even being aware of doing so. Again, these are almost always the same sorts of things. Everybody wants to write about high-status people, people in power and people of position. I wanted to write, however imperfectly, something different.
Ordinary people of all social classes, especially during the Meiji era, are much more interesting to me. They are the ones whose lives are upended regularly. They are the ones who have to decide how to cope with the sudden ending of their entire social order; how to find a new profession or enterprise since their old one no longer exists; they need to figure out how to survive in a world that really doesn't much care about them. Yet, that same world also trusts them to find a way to survive and prosper, to start new industries, to create new professions, to adjust themselves for the good of their communities as well as themselves. These are the interesting people. These are the people who change their world while remaining relentlessly Japanese. These are the people—well, they're mostly people—who inhabit the world of Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, as we tell their tales of Meiji Era Japan.
Adrik — Of Gorunu Alfaysk, Prince, son of Irtysh and Varvara.
Agniya — Lady, Dragon, Western. Former consort of Irtysh, mother of Galina.
Aika — Miko.
Amida — The famous central figure in Pure Land Buddhism; invoking Amida Buddha can result in the practitioner being reborn in the Western Paradise. This is different in concept from other forms of Buddhist practice, such as Nichrien and Zen.
Anko — Daughter of the local Sheriff & liege lord, married to Toshio, twin children, Sara and Sora.
Akira — The Eagle-boy, a Steller's Sea Eagle from Hokkaido.
Azuki — Girl who becomes a toki (Japanese Crested Ibis), sister of Shota.
Badger — Shape-changer, grouchy, curious and helpful, but not truly dual-natured.
Benjamin — American surveyor; working on mineral contracts.
Blackie — Samurai war stallion; helped Shota find Azuki.
Chizuyo — Brave woman, adopted human mother of Azuki and Shota.
Choshu Soldiers: Kuro, Takeshi, Botan, Yori.
Cloudy — Colt foal, by Blackie out of Red Wind; sometimes Storm Cloud, sometimes Flying Cloud, finally Thunder Cloud, but usually known as Cloudy.
Daiki — A shinobi working with Mitsu to carry a message to the Ryukyu Kingdom.
DaiTengu — Larger Tengu who adopt the form of a yamabushi to harass humans, especially religious.
Dragons, Earth and New Systems
Children of Rizantona, by the Slovene Timin, include the geographer, Verechelan, Irtysh's full brother; by Trentenvilu, from Chile, called Renten, the European sisters Calliope, Magerethe, Guivre, and Vibria, and by Ryuujin, King of the East, Renko and Susu.
From Africa: Apopris and Apep, of Egypt; Wedo, of Dahomy; Niki Naka, West Africa.
From the Americas: Miniwatu Lakota, from North America; Boitata, Brazil; Kukulkan, Mexico.
From Asia: Lixin, China; Samal Naga, India; Pakhangba, Philippines; Nagaratja (India, Otohime's mother), Kaliynaga (her current consort);
From Oceania: Ureia, New Zealand.
Egrets –- Beautiful birds with artistic license.
Eitaro and Satsuki — Anko’s parents, Lord and Lady, family name Yamada.
Endo — Farmhand and gardener.
Feng — Mistress, given name Meili; Noriko’s Chinese Shaolin Lao Shi and sifu, mother of Peng, talks to dragons.
Fox — Shape-changer, but not truly dual-natured.
Fuji Shoko — Friendly man Yuta meets on the train.
Fumie — Guardian of Records at Noriko’s former school.
Galina — of Vulkan Ichinski, Princess, daughter of Irtysh and Agniya.
Gemba — Midori’s disabled adult son.
Gengoro — Genmai’s brother; wants the fief and Azuki for himself.
Genmai — Late sheriff and liege lord of the area; wanted Azuki’s feathers for himself.
Hachibei — Kind man, adopted human father of Azuki and Shota.
Hanako — Formerly outcast, now the housekeeper.
Hanoka — South dockmaster at Ibusuki
Hitoshi — Brother of Noriko.
Hira — Lady Anko's maid.
Hirata(s) — Mitsuyo and Jisei, weavers and merchants who befriend Azuki.
Kawabata, Yoji — Influential professor Yuta befriends in Tokyo.
Kiku — Palomino mare.
Kojiro —Tsuruko’s human husband; their family name became Hamasaki.
Kichiro — dual-natured infant, son of Crane-woman Tsuruko and Kojiro.
Kukanko — An Oni child.
Ikue — Noriko’s former teacher.
Ine — Head housekeeper, Inn of the Golden Phoenix.
Irtysh — Dragon Prince, Rizantona's son by her first consort, Timin, European.
Junko — Mill girl with a future.
Lily — Bay mare.
Manami and Yukio — Students at Yuta's secondary school.
Masa — Errand boy/porter at the Inn of the Golden Phoenix.
Midori — Formerly outcast, now runs the local bathhouse.
Mifune(s) — Father and son, priests of the local Shrine; mother, a fujo or Shinto shaman, and daughter, who aspires to follow her mother.
Minoru — Master mariner, called Sencho or Captain, Shota’s teacher, his family name became Kaito.
Mitsu — A kunoichi of Noriko's school, on a mission.
Miyuki — Mill worker of unhappy background and unknown future.
Morimoto Toshio – Anko's fiancé, later, husband, took name Yamada on their marriage.
Nitabo — the professional name of Akimoto Nitaro, the real-life developer of Tsurugu Shamisen music; for more detail, see note in The Oni's Shamisen.
Noe — Displaced woman, Noriko’s replacement.
Noriko — She keeps the Inn of the Golden Phoenix – and secrets;
a soke martial arts master, she is now married to Yuta.
Otohime — Famous daughter of the Dragon King, Princess and O-kami. Her mother, Nagaratja, decorates the roof of the world with her snows.
Peng — Master; son of Mistress Feng, Noriko’s Chinese martial arts sensei or sifu. Lao Shi of the Tokyo Shaolin dojo.
Phlox — Buckskin mare.
Red Wind — Samurai war mare; Blackie’s friend, the fastest one.
Renko — Dragon Princess, daughter of Rizantona and her third consort, Ryuujin, friend of Azuki and Shota
Rizantona — Queen of the Western Dragons, mother of eight by three consorts, European.
Rumiko — Sister of Sayuri, niece of Fumie.
Ryuujin — King of the Eastern Dragons, father of Otohoime, Renko and Susu among the dual-natured, and many more pure dragons, Japanese.
Sachiko — Activist friend of Noriko’s.
Sato — Priest of the local Buddhist temple.
Sawa — Maid at the Inn of the Golden Phoenix.
Sayuri — Niece of Fumie.
Shota — Boy who becomes a Sparrow, Azuki's brother.
Suezo — Yuta’s friend from his monastery days, now in Tokyo
Suoh-Sugaar — Dual-natured child of Rizantona and Ryuujin, infant Dragon Prince, known as Susu.
Tanuki — Real animal with mysterious abilities.
Tengu — Evil being who can change from a kite or crow to a human-like form to harass humans.
Toyoda — Owner of the Inn of the Golden Phoenix
Tsuruko — Fabled Crane-woman, married to a human, Kojiro
Umi-bozu — Genuine sea monster with many children
Valeira — Of Gora Ledyanayya, Princess, daughter of Irtysh and Varvara, twin of Vassilli
Vassillii — Of Goru Pobeda, Prince, son of Irtysh and Varvara, twin of Valeria
Varvara — Lady, Dragon, Western. Former consort of Irtysh, vanished before the twins hatched, skilled with the ways of water and stone.
Yae — Mill worker of unknown origins and uncertain future.
Yamabushi — Mountain ascetic, practitioner of Shugendo, a kind of combination of martial arts, Buddhism and ancient mountain worship, one is in the service of Ikue.
Yuta — Former monk turned schoolmaster, now prominent in education; Azuki and Shota’s adopted human uncle and guardian. Their family name is Maeda, very old but seldom used until it became necessary to use it.