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The Makioka Sisters
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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Jul 01, 2018 08:21AM) (new)

Lesle | 6294 comments Mod
The Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Japanese
follows the lives of the wealthy Makioka family of Osaka from the autumn of 1936 to April 1941, focusing on the family's attempts to find a husband for the third sister, Yukiko. It depicts the decline of the family's upper-middle-class, suburban lifestyle as the specter of World War II and Allied Occupation hangs over the novel.
The novel's title, means lightly falling snow and is also used in classical Japanese poetry. The image suggests falling cherry blossoms in early spring—a number of poets confess to confusing falling cherry blossoms with snow. Falling cherry blossoms are a common symbol of impermanence, a prevalent theme of the novel. 544 pages


message 2: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 8955 comments Mod
I read this book a long time ago and reading the description on goodreads brought it back in mind. I don't remember any details but I do remember the mood. "Poignant" is the word that comes to mind. These women are members of a society undergoing a vast change, from traditional to modern, but the role of women is still very limited.


Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments I was planning to read this, to expand my knowledge of Japanese literature beyond Snow Country. I now have it but, boy it is longer than I anticipated. I read 2 books of 500+ pages last month, and will re-read Tess, but thank goodness for Cheese.
I don't want to discuss it alone, so I hope that at least whoever suggested it is also going to read it. It helps that Rosemarie read it, though.


message 4: by Brian E (last edited Jul 08, 2018 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments Well, I've read 34 pages and some initial impressions:

1) It has a Character Guide at the beginning, like with Tolstoy's, and I am not struggling with the names;
2) It was slow going at first, probably at my doing so I wouldn't miss the aspects of a different culture. But I think I have the rhythm down now and am quite enjoying it;
3)There are interesting cultural insights like: Tokyo men avoid women born in the Year of the Horse while Osaka men avoid ones born in the Year of the Ram;
4) The recently arrived neighbors to the Makiokas are a German family with children named Peter, Fritz and Rosemarie. Imagine that, a little German girl named Rosemarie, now living in a foreign country.


message 5: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 8955 comments Mod
It is a fairly common name in Germany. 🇩🇪😉


Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments FINISHED CHAPTER 16 OF BOOK TWO (pg. 222)

The Novel is divided into 3 Books; Book One pgs. 1-150) Book Two, pgs. 151-326; Book Three, pgs. 327-530.

I am enjoying the story. While it is a basic family story, the insights into the culture of pre-WWII Japan society enhance my enjoyment. I find the authoritarian search for the matrimonial partner for #3 sister fascinating, as is the fact that the younger sisters wait in turn for the older sister to marry. My memory of how brash it was for all the Bennett sisters to be "out in society" at the same time in Pride & Prejudice reminds me that it is not so different from proper Regency/Victorian England society norms.

if anyone else is reading the book, even if you don't normally like posting, I'd appreciate a post even just stating whether you like or don't like it so far.


message 7: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 8955 comments Mod
Please don't feel shy about posting. We really are interested in all our readers' opinions.


message 8: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen | 12 comments I just started this book, and I agree with Brian about the similarities with pride and prejudice. It also reminds me of a book I read a few months ago, ‘Please Enjoy your Happiness’ that came out sometime last year. Also takes place in Osaka, and I’m sure the author was inspired by the Makioka sisters and seemed to emulate Tanizaki’s style. I loved that book and it’s a treat to pick up another like it.


Rachana | 41 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I read this book a long time ago and reading the description on goodreads brought it back in mind. I don't remember any details but I do remember the mood. "Poignant" is the word that comes to mind..."

I read the book few months back and I agree with Rosemarie that the lengthy book mostly deals with the superficial issues like finding a perfect groom for the sisters in the succession, the outfits and the detailed account of the trends in the fashion during those changing times, the women (sisters) dealing with the personal issues but if they get to resolve those issues anyhow isn't clear.. confusing account and it seemed to me that book ends abruptly.
Women are shown in the book with influential voices and they are listened equally by their male counterparts but aren't contributing anything worthy to the society.
However the book provides a detailed and colourful cultural setup of a certain part of the world. I enjoyed reading about Japanese society and people. Overall I enjoyed the book.


Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments FINISHED CHAPTER 20 OF PART THREE (p. 435 out of 530)
As I enter the home stretch I make a few comments:
1. I agree with both Karen and Rashana. I enjoy the book which is, in Rashana's words: "a detailed and colorful cultural setup of a certain part of the world."
2. While these are 'superficial issues, it is through knowledge of these superficialities that you really find out about a society and its culture.
3. Now that I think of it, finding one's mate is more important than a superficial issue, though I agree that details of the procedures for the 'finding' does deal with trivialities.
4. I am at the point where the 'perfect groom' for Yukiko has been replaced with 'adequate groom.' In the last search, I found myself rooting for the prospect, Hashidera, to reject Yukiko, saying: 'you won't be happy with her- she's too quiet and old-fashioned."
5. I look forward to seeing how 'abrupt' the ending is and whether the abruptness is in the issues left unresolved or in an unexpected quick resolution like in Gaskell's North and South. I may avoid this thread until I find out.


message 11: by Brian E (last edited Jul 29, 2018 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments Yeah, I guess 3 hours avoidance is too long for me. A quick observation while I'm reading.

In Makioka sisters, as with the two other classic large groups of sisters of literature I've encountered, the Bennetts of Pride & Prejudice and the Marches of Little Women, it is the second sister that is the central focus.
I didn't see this at first because I thought this book would be about all four Makioka sisters. However, as the novel goes on, we really do see everyone more through Sachiko. While the major events that occur happen to Taeko or Yukiko, we see them more through the eyes of Sachiko and their effect on her, much as we see Lydia's elopement in P&P through Elizabeth or Beth's health issues in LW through Jo.
Sachiko is the Elizabeth or Jo of the Makioka Sisters.


Rachana | 41 comments Brian wrote: "FINISHED CHAPTER 20 OF PART THREE (p. 435 out of 530)
As I enter the home stretch I make a few comments:
1. I agree with both Karen and Rashana. I enjoy the book which is, in Rashana's words: "a de..."


Thank you Brian.

3. Finding one's mate, trying to find a suitable match/husband/life-partner for the third sister in descending order I think. Who is exactly trying to find out the same.. entire family and even the friends of the family except the girl herself. How much her own opinion matters, is not clear. What she desires in a life partner, is not clear. Whole household is trying to make a simple decision for the girl and they mess it all up. Her precious years are wasted. Reading 544 pages in vain cause they fail to find her a suitable match and the story ends with it.
Call it poignancy or melancholy or simply hilarious.


message 13: by Brian E (last edited Jul 30, 2018 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments FINISHED THE WHOLE THING - SPOILERS!

Some comments:
1. I forgot myself and mistakenly read Rashana's last comment before finishing, misinterpreted what 'fail to find her a suitable match' meant, and was expecting a different ending. That was fun and served me right for failing to exhibit self-control.
2. I see what Rashana meant by abrupt. The actual wedding and Taeko's future were left a bit open-ended. While authors often add a concluding epilogue-type chapter, sometimes, as with The Return of the Native, it is better not to have that epilogue. To me, the ending was satisfying.
3. It's true that we never find out what Yushina 'desires in a life partner.' I guess we just find out that her desires don't seem to matter that much, to either her or society.
4. i enjoyed both this novel and my other Japanese novel, Snow Country, but they are quite different. This is more of the classic family saga while Snow Country is artsy and touches one's sensations. It's beautiful but often cold. Both are enjoyable and solid 4 star books but, while my evaluation of the book was consistent while reading MS, they fluctuated while reading SC.


message 14: by Suki (last edited Jul 30, 2018 05:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 89 comments I just finished the book, and I really enjoyed it. I like the way that the book is kind of like a moving sidewalk-- you step on and are immediately swept along, and when it ends you still have to cover some distance on your own. I've noticed that a lot of the Japanese novels I've read have this sort of open ending-- you have to decide for yourself how it ends, unlike the books here in the West that tie everything up in a neat and tidy bow at the end. At first I found the open-ended stories really unsettling, but now I like them because they give the story much more of a realistic, slice-of-life feel, as if the characters are still out there somewhere, living their lives.


message 15: by Brian E (last edited Jul 30, 2018 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian E Reynolds | 4003 comments As I think more about it, though a bit open-ended, this book does resolve more things than many 'slice of life' books and movies do. There's always something left to the reader. Probably the only thing I've read or seen that doesn't leave something open was the TV show SIX FEET UNDER that followed all the characters to their time of death. Even then, I wondered a bit about events not shown.
After Suki's post, I fear I may have a nightmare tonight where I'm walking endlessly at an airport looking for my gate, on and off the people-mover.
Rachana, I'm sorry I've been spelling your name incorrectly as Rashana.


message 16: by Lee (new)

Lee Paris Suki : Your comments about the open ending reminds we that it may be a Japanese feature that has existed for a 1000 years. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu also seems unresolved at the end and after 1000 + pages no less. Also we only hear about Genji's death in the final quarter of the novel and are not actually "witness " to it.


message 17: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 89 comments Lee wrote: "Suki : Your comments about the open ending reminds we that it may be a Japanese feature that has existed for a 1000 years. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu also seems unresolved at the end and..."

Lee: That's a good point about The Tale of Genji-- I read it so long ago that I'd forgotten about that. The open or ambiguous ending appears in many, even most, of the Japanese books I've read. There was even a murder mystery I read where it ended with one character very likely to have committed the murder, but it is never definitively proven, and there are hints that the possibility exists that two of the other characters may have done it. The author expects the reader to form their own conclusions, based on what they have learned about the psychological makeup of the characters throughout the novel. I enjoy that-- it takes the onlooker out of the "passive reader" state and involves them in the story.


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