The Makioka Sisters

The Makioka Sisters

Yet another novel that is an interesting look at Japanese past. The Makioka Sisters, written by Junichiro Tanizaki, is a story set in the time of the second World War and it follows the life of four sisters. Well, unlike some novels that draw in a bit too much of the time period, this one talks more about personal lives of one particular family.

The story itself is meant to compare and contrast the changing ideals and social trends of its time. Interestingly enough, it was also written in this specific period, meaning that the author was in tune with a lot of the sentiment of his time. On the one hand, this book is about the way a family's comfortable life is disrupted as they face financial problems. Given this decline in fortune, the family has to cope with their change in social status.

Then there is the influx of new ideas. Japan had a stricter social structure and more rigid norms than it does now and this change in attitude is symbolized by the beliefs and actions of different sisters in the family. The older ones represent the traditional ways and they adhere to them willingly whilst the younger ones are more open to the new ways of thinking.

This slow-paced story is going to be an interesting read for those curious about Japanese culture. I think it might be a bit dated as most folks are not as patient with old-school ways of thinking. Indeed, the way the sisters worry too much about their place in society can be a bit overwhelming for modern readers. Like I said, if you read it, consider it an exploration of Japanese way of life in the 1940s.