The Makioka Sisters

The Makioka Sisters

5.0 3
by Junichiro Tanizaki

View All Available Formats & Editions

In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, four aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into the

See more details below


In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, four aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into the abyss of modernity.

Tsuruko, the eldest sister, clings obstinately to the prestige of her family name even as her husband prepares to move their household to Tokyo, where that name means nothing. Sachiko compromises valiantly to secure the future of her younger sisters. The unmarried Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, while the spirited Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances. Filled with vignettes of upper-class Japanese life and capturing both the decorum and the heartache of its protagonist, The Makioka Sisters is a classic of international literature.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Junichiro Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters

“A masterpiece of great beauty and quality.” –Chicago Tribune

“Skillfully and subtly, Tanizaki brushes in a delicate picture of a gentle world that no longer exists.” –San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
1st Vintage International ed
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)
980L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

Makioka Sisters

By Jun'ichiro Tanizaki

Alfred A. Knopf

Copyright © 1957 Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0394434706

Chapter One


Would you do this please, Koi-san?"

Seeing in the mirror that Taeko had come up behind her, Sachiko stopped powdering her back and held out the puff to her sister. Her eyes were still on the mirror, appraising the face as if it belonged to someone else. The long under-kimono, pulled high at the throat, stood out stiffly behind to reveal her back and shoulders.

"And where is Yukiko?"

"She is watching Etsuko practice," said Taeko. Both sisters spoke in the quiet, unhurried Osaka dialect. Taeko was the youngest in the family, and in Osaka the youngest girl is always "Koi-san," "small daughter."

They could hear the piano downstairs. Yukiko had finished dressing early, and young Etsuko always wanted someone beside her when she practiced. She never objected when her mother went out, provided that Yukiko was left to keep her company. Today, with her mother and Yukiko and Taeko all dressing to go out, she was rebellious. She very grudgingly gave her permission when they promised that Yukiko at least would start back as soon as the concert was over--it began at two--and would be with Etsuko for dinner.

"Koi-san, we have another prospect for Yukiko."


The bright puff moved from Sachiko's neck down over her back and shoulders. Sachiko was by no means round-shouldered, and yet the rich, swelling flesh of the neck and back somehow gave a suggestion of a stoop. The warm glow of the skin in the clear autumn sunlight made it hard to believe that she was in her thirties.

"It came through Itani."


"The man works in an office, M.B. Chemical Industries, Itani says."

"And is he well off?"

"He makes a hundred seventy or eighty yen a month, possibly two hundred fifty with bonuses."

"M.B. Chemical Industries--a French company?"

"How clever of you. How did you know?"

"Oh, I know that much."

Taeko, the youngest, was in fact far better informed on such matters than her sisters. There was a suggestion occasionally that she took advantage of their ignorance to speak with a condescension more appropriate in someone older.

"I had never heard of M.B. Chemical Industries. The head office is in Paris, Itani says. It seems to be very large."

"They have a big building on the Bund in Kobe. Have you never noticed it?"

"That is the place. That is where he works."

"Does he know French?"

"It seems so. He graduated from the French department of the Osaka Language Academy, and he spent some time in Paris--not a great deal, though. He makes a hundred yen a month teaching French at night."

"Does he have property."

"Very little. He still has the family house in the country--his mother is living there--and a house and lot in Kobe. And nothing more. The Kobe house is very small, and he bought it on installments. And so you see there is not much to boast of."

"He has no rent to pay, though. He can live as though he had more than four hundred a month."

"How do you think he would be for Yukiko? He has only his mother to worry about, and she never comes to Kobe. He is past forty, but he has never been married."

"Why not, if he is past forty?"

"He has never found anyone refined enough for him, Itani says."

"Very odd. You should have him investigated."

"And she says he is most enthusiastic about Yukiko."

"You sent her picture?"

"I left a picture with Itani, and she sent it without telling me. She says he is very pleased."

"Do you have a picture of him?"

The practicing went on below. It did not seem likely that Yukiko would interrupt them.

"Look in the top drawer on the right." Puckering her lips as though she were about to kiss the mirror, Sachiko took up her lipstick. "Did you find it?"

"Here it is. You have shown it to Yukiko?"



"As usual, she said almost nothing. What do you think, Koi-san?"

"Very plain. Or maybe just a little better than plain. A middling office worker, you can tell at a glance."

"But he is just that after all. Why should it surprise you?"

"There may be one advantage. He can teach Yukiko French."

Satisfied in a general way with her face, Sachiko began to unwrap a kimono.

"I almost forgot." She looked up. "I feel a little short on 'B.' Would you tell Yukiko, please?"

Beri-beri was in the air of this Kobe-Osaka district, and every year from summer into autumn the whole family--Sachiko and her husband and sisters and Etsuko, who had just started school--came down with it. The vitamin injection had become a family institution. They no longer went to a doctor, but instead kept a supply of concentrated vitamins on hand and ministered to each other with complete unconcern. A suggestion of sluggishness was immediately attributed to a shortage of Vitamin B, and, although they had forgotten who coined the expression, "short on 'B'" never had to be explained.

The piano practice was finished. Taeko called from the head of the stairs, and one of the maids came out. "Could you have an injection ready for Mrs. Makioka, please?"


Excerpted from Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki Copyright © 1957 by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >