The Makioka Sisters Read-along for March

Here is my edition of The Makioka Sisters by Juni’chiro Tanizaki, lying in wait on my piano with a few origami doves I folded years ago. March does not begin until Sunday, but as some of you are as anxious to begin as I, let us lay out a few thoughts on how to proceed.

First of all, please read at the pace you wish. It is terribly difficult for me to lay down a book, pick up another, and return to the first. When I lose momentum, I lose who the characters are, and I’m apt to ask myself, “Exactly what has happened again?” So, I will probably read it in one go.

However, Tanizaki has nicely laid out The Makioka Sisters in three ‘Books’. I thought it would be helpful to discuss them as we go, and so I will put up a post for each of the three ‘Books’ in March as follows:

March 10: Discussion on Book I

March 17: Discussion on Book II

March 24: Discussion on Book III

March 31: Discussion of The Makioka Sisters overall.

Please feel free to join in any of these discussions, or post thoughts and/or favorite parts on your blogs or social media at any time during the month of March. Let’s use #MakiokaSistersRead2020 on Twitter or Instagram, if you choose to do so. I hope you are ready to join in reading this book which has been thought of as one of the most important Japanese novels to be published.

This is the story of the extinction of the once rich and haughty sisters of a great family through pride and over-refinement, and a re-creation of the sumptuous, pleasure-filled upper-class life of Osaka just before the war. Tsuruko, the oldest sister, uncompromising, unadaptable, worn down by money doubles and a large family, is forced to move to the competitive world of Tokyo where the Makioka name means nothing. The second sister, Sachiko, is a woman of rare kindness and good sense, who tries her best to hold the family together and to preserve the wonderful life they knew as children. The central theme of the book is finding a husband for Yukio, the third sisters. She has all the accomplishments of an elegant Japanese lady, yet she finds the strength to refuse a long line of suitors. Taeko, the youngest sister, is a modern girl who tries to break away from her family and to establish herself in a career. She has series of love affairs, bears a child, and ends up as the wife of a bartender. The Makioka Sisters is at once a work of art and a unique record of a period and a district.

Juni’chiro Tanizaki (1886-1965), widely considered one of Japan’s finest modern writers, was born in the heart of Tokyo. He studied Japanese literature at Tokyo Imperial University. After the earthquake of 1923, he moved to the more cultured Kyoto-Osaka region, the setting for The Makioka Sisters. His most important novels and stories, many reflecting his taste for sexual perversity, his eye for social comedy, and his bitter humor, were written after his move. He received the Imperial Prize for Literature in 1949.

~Tuttle Publishing

23 thoughts on “The Makioka Sisters Read-along for March”

    1. Hooray! I’m so glad we’ll embark on this journey together. I have already begun it, and I’m already entranced. (In a weird way, I’m reminded of The Buddenbrooks, another family which fell into financial disarray, although they were German not Japanese.)


  1. I have my copy ready and I can’t wait to begin! 🙂 My weeks are quite busy, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it all in March, but fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started last night as my copy was ready, too, and it is so good! My March is really busy with the Booker International Prize long list being released tomorrow, and the time it will take to read as a shadow jury member. But, I will carry on with this joyfully, and I surely understand if you cannot finish in March.❤


    1. As I have said on Twitter regarding the Booker International Prize reading ahead, we do not want to make our joy into a job. IF it appeals to you, please do join in. I would love your input, and it is really an exceptional book. This is weird, but in the very beginning it made me think of The Buddenbrooks, with the affluence of a wealthy family slipping away along with their position in society. But, it’s very early…and compelling.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ll be reading your posts and others, hopefully. This is at the very top of my favorite books. It’s jarringly beautiful. I also read it at the time when we had the first flood in Houston, and there’s a flood that happens in the book. I’m surprised at how much I still remember. It made a huge impression. I may go back and read some passages, -since I’m going to be busy with 100 Years of Solitude read along in March/April as well.

    I want EVERYONE who reads this book to love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve wanted to read this for a long, and I’m sorely tempted to join. But March is a tough month for me, so it probably won’t happen. The comparison to Buddenbrooks tempts me even more, though.


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