top of page

“The Makioka Sisters” by Junichiro Tanizaki

I finally finished reading the masterpiece by Tanizaki. This is literature with a capital ‘L’. I was living in the Kansai region in the 1930s the whole of last week. What is really special about this work is its language. Almost all the dialogues are written in the Kansai dialect, which makes it rich and one of a kind. Tanizaki’s masterful prose is fabulous and intoxicating. I enjoyed every single page.

Many enticing contrasts are depicted in this work: Yukiko in Japanese clothes and Taeko in western ones; Ashiya and Shibuya; Piano and Koto; cherry blossom viewing and firefly hunting; peacefulness and natural disasters; the West and East; and life and death.

Characterizations are really great and I especially liked that of Taeko (the youngest sister) and Haru (the maid for the household of Sachiko), who are multifaceted. The descriptions of the flood and diseases are frighteningly real. The interactions between the Makiokas and their neighbors (the Russian family and German family) made me smile. The nuances of the feelings of the 4 sisters are captured and conveyed delicately and yet thoroughly.

books and coffee

Tanizaki wrote and published this book despite it being censored. He had just finished translating “The Tale of Genji”, whose influence I could see in the work. “The Makioka Sisters” is definitely one of the best novels I have ever read.

Orwell writes on “Tropic of Cancer” that it ‘gives you an idea of what can still be done, even at this late date, with English prose’. The same applies to this work. I realized the richness and depth of the Japanese language.

My literature bucket list has been reading “Ulysses” in English, “In Search of Lost Time” in French, and this work in Japanese. One is accomplished. How about yours?

1 view0 comments


bottom of page