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  1. Book Review: The Makioka Sisters by Tanizaki Jun‘ichirô
  2. Books by Midnight Eye
  3. On Dvd & Streaming
  4. Sasame-yuki (Fine Snow)(Hosone yuki)(The Makioka Sisters)
  5. Book Review: The Makioka Sisters by Tanizaki Jun‘ichirô | Japan Kaleidoskop

I had missed your review somehow — nice to read your thoughts.


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What a comment that is in itself. The traditions are so ancient that it could be the s or the s. A wealthy lord has several wives and they must learn the subtle constraints of life in his castle. Yes, these enclosed worlds can be so fascinating. Could it have been made into a film? In any case, your excellent review really makes it sound a totally absorbing examination of a very different way of life.

Putting it in my queue — I would love to see the visuals. I read this a few years ago too! What struck me was how SLOW everything was. It takes days to think about a letter and hours to write it. Everything is like that! I read this book a few years ago because a good friend recommended it to me. Not that I have read him, but if one had to make a comparison, I would go with Thomas Hardy because while there are beautiful descriptions of the environs, much of the story is pretty tragic.

I am not well versed in non-western literature either. In fact, this is still the only book by a Japanese author I have ever read! Hardy is an interesting one to compare. In my recollection his novels are more expansive and dramatic than this one, which is so very domestic. But the tragic elements, and the characters who seem hopelessly constricted by their fate, do seem to give them something in common. It sounds interesting. And I loved your review of it! IQ84 was on my list for a while but I gave it up as too huge and intimidating.

Wish me luck! I appreciate the comparison to Austen and Trollope. It is interesting to compare different authors as well as different cultures. Thanks for reviewing it, and leaving me a link to the Japanese Literature Challenge to which I have added your post. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Makioka Sisters , please sign up. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [This is one of my favorite books but the embarrassing part is that I still have a hard time understanding the very last page.

It is driving me crazy. Can anyone make sense of what I am not seeing clearly? Including the poem and the wacky last sentence. Klaas Roggeman I don't know why he ended it so abruptly but in the afterword by the Dutch translator it says that the last sentence could signify that the marriage …more I don't know why he ended it so abruptly but in the afterword by the Dutch translator it says that the last sentence could signify that the marriage will not be a lucky one.

Apparently the whole book is highly autobiographical, if fictionalised, about the sisters of Tanizaki's second or third wife. The sister who compares to Yukiko apparently was married to the illegitimate son of a viscount. But after the war the gentry was abolished all titles and her husband died early. So it was indeed not a happy marriage. The book appeared in three stages so he might have known the end by the eh end. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [Does anyone have thought on whether the doctor intentionally killed Taeko's baby at birth, or let it die, to save embarrassment for the family?

I couldn't tell from reading it, and thought maybe those who know more than I do about Japanese culture at the time would have a more informed view. Lynna Lei This answer contains spoilers… view spoiler [ I doubt that to be the case. He has no relationship with the Makioka family. As stated in the book, although Sachiko recommended this doctor, she had …more I doubt that to be the case. As stated in the book, although Sachiko recommended this doctor, she had never met him. I don't think he would risk his good name for people he's not acquainted with.

Additionally, the way the baby died was not uncommon. When a baby came out bottom first breech birth , it increases the risk of suffocation. I don't know a lot about Japanese culture, but I don't think the baby's death has anything to do with culture, unless you believe, like Sachiko, that it was due to a curse put on Taeko by Okubata and Itakura.

See all 4 questions about The Makioka Sisters…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 02, Ilse rated it really liked it Recommends it for: readers to like to ponder on family relations. Shelves: , reviewed , japan , symforosa-rc. Let me hide at least a petal In the sleeve of my flower-viewing robe, That I may remember the spring. Five years ago, we planted two trees in our enclosed garden, a gingko biloba, which bright yellow unique fan-shaped leaves beguile in autumn , and a cherry tree, for its refined and daintily colored blossoms in spring.

Although some of our relatives at first criticized the choice of the Gingko, skeptical and worried about its stature in our miniature garden, the mighty Gingko is now firmly estab Let me hide at least a petal In the sleeve of my flower-viewing robe, That I may remember the spring. Although some of our relatives at first criticized the choice of the Gingko, skeptical and worried about its stature in our miniature garden, the mighty Gingko is now firmly established without further contestation. As Tanizaki profusely elucidates in The Makioka Sisters , contrasts mirror the complexity of reality, at times even render reality tolerable, or at least fascinating.

The gingko tree, venerated in the East as a sacred tree, figures as a symbol of changelessness and is associated with longevity. Some trees even survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The cherry blossoms in turn symbolize the fragility of beauty and the brevity of life. The transient nature of the soft white-pink petals intensifies the delicate beauty, bringing sadness too, reminding of mortality. With The Makioka Sisters Tanizaki wrote an eulogy to impermanence, soaked in the Japanese cultural and aesthetical concept and Zen mood of Mono no aware, a sense of melancholic resignation and sorrow for loss.

The two oldest sisters, Tsuruko and Sachiko, are married and settled, while the two youngest sisters, Yukiko and Taeko, have still to be taken care of by arranging a suitable marriage for them. As an utterly timid and incommunicative person, stubborn and silent, never showing her feelings, she becomes a nuisance to the family, an embarrassing obstacle for the chances of the youngest sister Taeko to get properly married. The sense of urgency is even increasing now the westernized and non-conformist Taeko disregards the traditional family values and concerns by her blatant promiscuity, having various scandalous love affairs and persistently damaging the reputation of her family.

Rebellious by principle, artistic and clever Taeko represents social change in Japan, a shift to individualism and personal choice. She is a proto-feminist modern woman, determined to take control of her own destiny by working. Tender-hearted, gullible and overly sensitive, she has practically taken the full responsibility for her two younger sisters after the death of their parents, while according to the mores, this task, including marrying both women off to a suitable spouse, is in fact the one of the oldest sister, Tsuruko and her husband Tatsuo, who is now head of the family.

Perhaps it is even an affectionate one, even if romantic love is not a theme in the traditional marriage business basically fixed on risk analysis or in this novel. No sight into the inner thought processes of the characters is granted to the reader however, as Tanizaki focusses on the larger scale changes in the traditional Japanese society, describing the experiences and tribulations of his characters in a detached narrative style. While on the surface an engrossing family saga with a touch of soapy plot features, the novel left me with the nagging feeling there are multiple layers to this novel barely fathomable to a western eye only by a whisker acquainted with Japanese culture, history and literature.

Written partly during WWII, the military censors soon halted the on-going serialized publication of the novel — the declined state of the too feminine world it reflected was considered unpatriotic at a time ultra-nationalism, imperialist expansion and military optimism were paramount. It depicts a comfortable, overly protected, almost decadently elegant life on a moment the authorities demanded austerity. Tanizaki, at first infatuated by modernity and the West and influenced by writers like Poe, Wilde and Baudelaire, turned to more traditional Japanese aesthetics and traditional culture when he moved to the Kansai region in , the cultural and historical heart of Japan, resulting in three translations of the 11th century The Tale of Genji he wrote in modern Japanese.

The smooth and elegant prose seduces effortlessly, even more when overlooking the proverbial cultural barbs. Both misjudgments serve as another reminder of the fact only having scraped the surface of the multiple layers of this book. On down the river, on and on, were fireflies, lines of them wavering out from this bank and the other and back again, sketching their uncertain tracks of light down close to the surface of the water, hidden from outside by the grasses.

In the last moment of light, with darkness creeping up from the water and the moving plumes of grass still faintly outlined, there, far as the river stretched- an infinite number of little lines in two long rows on either side, quiet, unearthly. Sachiko could see it all even now, here inside with her eyes closed. Surely that was the impressive moment of the evening, the moment that made the firefly hunt worth-while. And when Sachiko was asked what flower she liked best, there was no hesitation in her answer: the cherry blossom.

All these hundreds of years, from the days of the oldest poetry collections, there have been poems about cherry blossoms. The ancients waited for cherry blossoms, grieved when they were gone, and lamented their passing in countless poems. How very ordinary the poems had seemed to Sachiko when she read them as a girl, but now she knew, as well as one could know, that grieving over fallen cherry blossoms was more than a fad or a convention.

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Book Review: The Makioka Sisters by Tanizaki Jun‘ichirô

The excursion had become a fixed annual observance. With each breeze and each shower their concern for the cherries would grow. Now that the great weeping cherry in Gion was dying and its blossoms were growing paler each year, what was left to stand for the Kyoto spring if not the cherries in the Heian Shrine? And so, coming back from the western suburbs on the afternoon of the second day, and picking that moment of regret when the spring sun was about to set, they would pause, a little tired, under the trailing branches, and look fondly at each tree — on around the lake, by the approach to a bridge, by a bend in the path, under the caves of the gallery.

And until the cherries came the following year, they could close their eyes and see again the color and line of a trailing branch. Ever since, they had made it a point to stand under the same tree and look out over the pond, have their picture taken. Representing the fragility and brevity of life, both the cherry blossoms and the fireflies are poignant symbols for the fleeting of time, the transience of beauty, the predominant awareness of Panta Rei and of inevitable social, economic and cultural change this novel exudes in every sentence — change which is undesirable and regrettable in some ways.

Although this novel is often called an epic elegy mourning the waning and loss of traditional Japanese values and mores, Tanizaki most of the time uses a subtle brush to paint the vanishing world as known by the sisters. He questions their desperate clinging to the old rituals by means of hyperbolic description in a slightly ironic tone, observing the gauche behaviour of the family when they put out all the stops to market Yukiko. There is no unequivocal idealization of the traditions or cultural practices, nor are they represented as superior to the more modernized and westernized way of life in Japan.

On the one hand he is lamenting the past, glorifying the successful arranged marriages of Tsuruko and Sachiko, contrasting this harmonious bliss with the bleak ending of the progressive path Taeko — and by extension Japan, by modernization and westernization — chose.


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On the other hand he is suggesting that the old ways do not avail anymore, and that Japan has to outgrow its oppressive traditions, hinting at the unhappiness of Yukiko, albeit her obedience to the traditions. Neither Yukiko or Taeko are happy or rewarded. Pondering about this novel, which fascinatingly contrasts and blends past and present, modernity and tradition, East and West, I visited the Japanese garden in Hasselt last Sunday.

Listening to the guide talking about the ancient tradition of Hanami, the picnicking under the blooming cherry trees, richly flooded with sake, it occurred that the cherry blossoms have been affected with less innocent connotations in the past; during WWII the cherry blossoms took on a new, grim meaning, as kamikaze pilots used to paint cherry blossoms on their aircrafts, identifying themselves with the short- lived petals when they departed on their suicide missions.

Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse. View all 62 comments. Feb 10, Adam Dalva rated it it was amazing. A sweeping, propulsive masterpiece, the story of four sisters with divergent paths in a Japan caught between two eras in the late s. When I first read this, ten years ago, I was drawn to the setpieces, particularly the famous, dramatic flood scene.

And those are indeed great, but the subtleties - the book's focus on the body decaying, on western mores seeping their way into a family that wants to hold on to traditional values, the steady humor - make this a masterpiece. It is in some ways a A sweeping, propulsive masterpiece, the story of four sisters with divergent paths in a Japan caught between two eras in the late s. It is in some ways a chamber novel, a series of small dramas told in rooms, as the Makiokas try to marry off Yukiko, the 3rd of 4 sisters. But natural disasters, war overseas, and cruelties lurk.

It is a bit of Jane Austen and a bit of Tolstoy in one, with Tanizaki's keen eye for detail those flower descriptions setting it apart. You find your loyalties shifting among the sisters, as you read. Each is frustrating, each is wonderful. How like life. View 1 comment. May 03, Dolors rated it really liked it Recommends it for: I prefer walking than running.

Recommended to Dolors by: Marina. Shelves: read-in , dost , asian. The yearly peregrination to the natural spectacle of the cherry blossoming in Kyoto is a millenary tradition in Japan. The symbolism attached to that ritual renders the transience of beauty. The constant collision between the explosion of exuberant vitality and the withering that precedes the inevitable defoliation marks the unrelenting passage of time and the virtuous circle of life rekindled from the ashes.

Evoking the naturalistic undertone of the European nineteenth century literature, the Makioka Sisters emerge as aristocratic female protagonists with a family name in steadfast decline that compose a novel of manners in a cannon of four voices. The younger sisters, subservient Yukiko and free-spirited Taeko, see the seasons go by but still remain unmarried branded by an unfortunate scandal that took place ten years ago.

A delicate and precise narration of the intricate obstacles the Makioka family endures to find suitable partners for the unwed sisters following a strict morality that equals the status of law becomes the main plotline and sets the action for the background tragedy that is about to unfold. Like in the pointillism technique, words color this story like a fresco painting with small dots of color through the nuanced description of everyday life scenes: the choice of the right kimono for each occasion and its appropriate complements, the recurrent miais where suitors are introduced to the reluctant sisters, the outings to the Kabuki theatre or the trips to Tokyo and its hostile urbanity, the apparently casual dialogues between the members of the Makioka households; every scene acquires the steady rhythm of a repetitive routine, which sometimes verges the tedious, but emulates the circular pattern of the changing seasons and eludes linear storytelling along with the patience of readers more used to action packed books.

The characters, even though unscathed on the surface, show the cracks on the walls of their sophisticated poises in small trivialities that can easily go unnoticed by the westernized eye, which in turn augurs the gradual fading of the ancestral heritage of the Japanese empire.

The Nazi alliance is represented by the friendship between the Makiokas and the Stlotz, their German neighbors, but Tanizaki avoids issuing direct value judgments on history or glorifying an objectionable social system that severely limited the free will of women and remains a dignified paradigm of discretion, infusing the required tone in the story to allow the reader to reach his own conclusions.

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Nothing is explicit, awareness is reached in semidarkness and in the end, the inner turbulences that shake the Makioka family echo the outward disruption of an era on the verge of disappearing, something that can be envisioned in the prosaic and rather abrupt ending that Tanizaki uses to close this nostalgic ode to a world that no longer exists in reality, only in words.

The petals of the cherry blossoms might fall like tiny butterflies settling to earth, the morning dew on weeping branches might remind us of unshed tears, and with the senses scrambled, the reader won't know whether he is mourning the loss of the old or welcoming the new that keeps the sense of loneliness suspended in time, running much deeper than mere nostalgia, for there is a certain amount of unknowable depth in Japanese literature that will always remain half in the shadows, making it unfathomable, and pure, at once.

View all 73 comments. My 'better late than never' review. Several weeks ago, I put out a request for a recommendation of a good Japanese book to read.

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My good friend Marita immediately popped up with The Makioka Sisters. This recommendation was seconded by friend Silvia Cachia. I read their reviews and ordered the book, then forgot about it. Then I became frustrated with the slowness of my current reading choices and complained on GR that I felt like I was stuck in a bog. Friend Travelin piped in with, "Go random. That struck me as pretty "random". I had several books on order. So here I am. An excellent novel. Extremely well written and translated.

The story moves along well and at times is positively captivating. I got my thoughts together and sat down to write what I hoped would be a pretty good review based on the fact that I loved the book and had written a few notes while reading the book. But then I read my friend Ilse's review. It looked a little familiar. Of course, there was the review I wanted to write. But it was better than anything that I could have written. It had all of my ideas but so much more, much, much more.

And the writing was wonderful. And she had added beautiful pictures I would love to have Fireflies up on my wall in my reading room. She even had what I thought were brilliant references to Jane Austin and Thomas Mann which I had planned to use as an opener to my review.

So if you want to read what I think of The Makioka Sisters, read Ilse's brilliant review and think that somewhere in that glowing brilliance are a few embers that would have been my review. Yes the book is about that favourite subject of earlier Japanese writers, cultural change and its efforts on individuals. I love the theme and will continue to read these books. What struck me about The Makioka Sisters was that the story was strongly centred on an extended family and its struggles with that change. And, despite the fact that it was about a Japanese family in the mid s, a few years before my appearance on this planet, I empathized, I understood and I related what I read to my own experiences.

Today, with our ever changing technology and constant pressures, financial, political and consumer, we see our young often floundering off in directions that deeply offend us. And yet, speaking for myself at least, we are, like Sachiko, who finds herself in the role of guardian of the values, weak and ineffective.

Sasame-yuki (Fine Snow)(Hosone yuki)(The Makioka Sisters)

Finally, again like Sachiko, we accept a hollow spectre of what we once held to be sacred. Those values that we have tried to defend in families as parents, and even as children, have so little basis. They are nothing but conventions of our society and, for all of the Sturm und Drang we experience, in the final analysis, we are left worn and torn but still intact no matter what is left of our values. Perhaps, as in the Makioka Sisters, we are best off to let those family values go in the name of maintaining the family. I have recently gone through yet another family crisis with yet another deeply held value going the way of the passenger pigeon.

In the final analysis, the family is magically still firmly together held that way by mutual love and caring. I cannot really expect more in our ever changing world. The option of fighting for the value and splintering the family is unacceptable. View all 23 comments. Dec 30, Aubrey rated it really liked it Shelves: translated , 4-star , person-of-everything , antidote-think-twice-all , antidote-translated , japanese , reviewed , r , r-goodreads , antidote-think-twice-read.

It's been such a long time since I've read a translation of the Japanese language. I had completely forgotten how calm and subtle the prose is, how patient you have to be in probing it. It's true that enough happens on the surface to make for a lengthy story, but it is the hidden depths that make the story engaging.

Most of the story is occupied with the lives of the Makioka sisters, focusing on the third sister who even at her advanced age has not yet been married. The book starts with discussio It's been such a long time since I've read a translation of the Japanese language. The book starts with discussion of yet another possible husband, view spoiler [and ends with the long awaited marriage, hide spoiler ] but it is so much more than a drawn out soap opera. The main thing to remember is that no matter what trivial events are being described, they are all happening at the cusp of World War II.

This event, at first only briefly referred to as the 'China Incident', grows increasingly important as more and more characters feel the effects. All of the sisters are slow to act at the beginning, analyzing the latest events for weeks on end, spending months on decisions that in this era would barely last a day. Even the youngest sibling, who is seemingly very adventurous and self sufficient compared to her sisters, is shown to be just as stuck in the past as the rest of them. She is quickest to act in realization of the changing times, and as such is the quickest to fall victim to disaster.

The story doesn't continue very far after her specific troubles are over, but all signs suggest that the other sisters will not be able to avoid the dangers of the coming war. They do not know it yet, but the world is changing into a place with no time for their old methodical approach to life, and their survival will be completely dependent on their ability to adapt. The book is a prime example of characters not appreciating in the slightest what they have until it is gone. They move around their social spheres, content in using all their time to carefully ruminate on the smallest problems from all angles, while making apologies for the slightest supposed missteps.

Any hint of the dirty facts of reality is met with immovable contempt and disapproval, and in this day and age, the intrusions of reality are usually small enough that this stubbornness is enough to make them disappear. As time continues, the characters find it increasingly difficult to continue their way of life without acknowledgement of the current wartime conditions, but they still manage to succeed till the very end of this story. The book ends with discussion of the latest banal details of life, but sprinkled throughout are the hopes that each character has for the future.

As the reader knows, soon after the end of the novel Japan would descend into chaos and misery as the war made itself known, something that the author himself was completely aware of. Writing this story in Japan from , he would've known full well what kind of journey he was sending his characters on. He would've experienced the worsening way of life that culminated in a final blow when Japan was bombed into surrender, and watched as even the Emperor surrendered to the demands of the outside world.

His intimate descriptions of pre-WWII Japan are not only highly accurate, they clearly emphasize how traumatic the war will be to a country so slow and stubborn in its ways of life. If he had gone on to write more, it is obvious that not even the isolated Makioka family would have been able to remain unscathed. There is little chance that any of their hopes for the future that continued beyond the novel would have been realized. What is certain is that their petty feuds and selfish desires would pale in comparison to the rampant death and destruction, and the war would trigger a mental crisis of the entire population.

The days where the family of these sisters could afford to be surprised at 'hasty' actions, something commented on throughout the novel, would be at an end. Whether they survived this abrupt shove into modern times is anyone's guess. View all 4 comments.

Book Review: The Makioka Sisters by Tanizaki Jun‘ichirô | Japan Kaleidoskop

Sep 16, Kimley rated it liked it Shelves: 20th-century , japanese. I really wanted and fully expected to love this book. I loved Tanizaki's Naomi but for reasons that I can't properly express I never found myself engrossed in this as I'd hoped to be. I'd get into for a bit, get bored, put it down for a few weeks and then pick it up again.

I can however understand why this book is so well regarded and I really keep vacillating on how to rate it. Set in Japan, it's an intimate look at a family of four sisters, their husbands, lovers or lack thereof and immediate I really wanted and fully expected to love this book. Set in Japan, it's an intimate look at a family of four sisters, their husbands, lovers or lack thereof and immediate family and friends.

It's a book that deals primarily with the mundane. The last sentence of the book and this isn't revealing anything is about one of the character's diarrhea. I have only read one other Tanizaki book but I gather that he frequently deals with obsession and this book is obsessively mundane. The film's greatest adherence to its source appears to be the sexualised scenes of the girls practising eating sushi with chopsticks without smudging their lipstick.

Shifting the emphasis from Tanizaki's tragic depiction of a family being overtaken by currents in the world around them in order to instil in contemporary viewers a sense of nostalgia and a pride in traditional values, Ichikawa invokes the home dramas of Yasujiro Ozu , but without the master's irony or visual style. Whilst technically solid, despite the obviously large budget that has been lavished on the production, what remains seems more ideally suited for television. Events unfold in lengthy, static set-bound scenes of seemingly endless dialogue, occasionally opened up with seasonal shots of the sisters strolling beneath the cherry blossoms or maple viewing.

I'll nail my colours to the post here. While enjoying a number of Ichikawa's individual titles, I have never had a huge amount of interest in this director - though there are plenty who do rate him highly, as recent retrospectives around the world clearly demonstrate. My own personal feeling about Ichikawa and I will stress that this is just my own feeling is that his finest work was all done in the s and 60s, and from the 80s on he has seemingly been content in re-making his own material. I never got much of an impression of the actual man behind the camera.

His choice of subject matter seems all over the place, from beautifully polished period pieces like An Actor's Revenge Yukinojo Henge, through his exhaustive and exhausting documentary on the Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo Olympiad to the live-action puppet animation based on the Italian mouse character Topo Gigio and the Missile War - and wasn't this itself remade or reissued very recently?

Yes there's some fine films among his back catalogue, but also some rather lacklustre titles like Princess from the Moon Taketori Monogatari, This assessment may all be a little unfair of me, and I know many who will disagree, and perhaps justifiably. What they might not disagree with however is that this particular film is not among his best. It is dull, over-long, and over-reverent, and certainly no substitute for actually reading what remains one of the greatest Japanese pieces of literary fiction.