The father and head of the Yamada family. Takashi is authoritative and commanding. He is easily irritated and does not like to be disturbed while relaxing. He likes baseball games, smoking, snow, and eating. He likes to impress his superiors at work. He sometimes daydreams about how he would be if he were someone else.
The mother of the Yamada family. She takes care of the house, but has next to no cooking ability, leading her to make the same meal several days in a row. She is constantly forgetting things. Her relationship with her husband is sometimes warm, sometimes strained.
Matsuko's mother and grandmother to the Yamada children. Shige lives with the family. She is sometimes blunt in her words. She has a strong sense of personal duty, and volunteers for the city, doing things such as cleaning up the park and clearing leaves.
The son of the Yamada family. He attends high school, and is not a particularly good student. He argues with his parents frequently. He is sneaky and seems to like getting his family irritated at him.
The daughter of the Yamada family. She is mostly naïve of the world around her. She is unusually smart for a 4-year-old. She has a good memory, but not too much logic.
The Yamada family dog, Poochi, is indifferent to the world around him. He sleeps through most of the film.
The Yamada children's aunt. Nonoko adores her.
A girl in Noboru's class. She's somewhat dense.
A young boy, even younger than Nonoko. He gets lost in a shopping center. Nonoko helps him find his mother.
The leader of a dangerous motorcycle gang. He is loud, demanding, and especially intimidating. He likes talking about his bike, but dislikes talking to anyone who thinks he has any problems.
A volunteer who knew Shige when she was a little girl. Apparently their former relationship was unfriendly, as Shige still dislikes him after 40 years.
A florist in the Yamada's neighborhood. He likes it when people comment on his flowers.
One of Noboru's friends. He enjoys magazines (in the film, the "swimsuit issue").
A boy who attends Noboru's school. One of the girls has a crush on him, but he doesn't even acknowledge her.
Noboru's teacher is a typical schoolteacher. She does not bend to Noboru's arguments about unfairness and test-taking.
Nonoko's teacher is quiet. Her motto is "Keep it simple".