Junichiro Tanizaki

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Junichiro Tanizaki

The Makioka Sisters

Just before World War II, the four Makioka sisters live in two houses. Tsuruko, the eldest, runs the main house, and her husband Tatsuo, the son of a banker and took the Makioka name, is the head of the family and runs the family's business. The two youngest, Yukiko, who is still unmarried and already thirty, and Taeko, the youngest, live with Sachiko and her husband Teinosuke, who have a little daughter, Etsuko. Sachiko's friend Itani, who runs a beauty parlor and is a famous matchmaker, has found a potential husband for Yukiko, the employee of a French company who is past forty and has never been married. The man, Segoshi, has done his due diligence and, while researching the family's history, he found out that Yukiko was involved in a scandal but also realized that she was innocent. We are informed that the Makioka family used to be wealthy but their fortunes have declined. Yukiko never found a husband partly because she's too shy and partly because the family kept refusing prospects who were not wealthy enough. But now the family is more willing to compromise. The scandal that hurt Yukiko's reputation was caused by Taeko: when she was 19, she ran away with her lover, the son of a family that owned a jewelry shop. The newspaper published the story but wrote Yukiko's name instead of Taeko's. Taeko and her boyfriend Okubata had run away because they couldn't get married, according to tradition, before the older Yukiko got married. Taeko had returning and now had started her own business, making dolls at her own studio. She is still in love with Okubata but now they patiently await that Yukiko finds a husband. The scandal put even more pressure on Yukiko to get married. We learn that the sisters lost their father ten years earlier and their mother when Yukiko was barely a child. Now Yukiko is very attached to Sachiko's daughter Etsuko, who is taken care by the 17-year-old maid O-haru and who plays with the children of their German neighbors, the Stolz, especially the girl Rosemarie (the boys are Peter and Fritz). Itani and Sachiko arrange a dinner to interview Segoshi. Invited are also Sachiko's husband Teinosuke, Itani's brother Murakami, and Segoshi's friend Igarashi, a businessman. Sachiko is older than Yukiko but she's so lively that she looks younger, so Itani asks her to paint her face to look much older. It is not the first time that Sachiko is asked to look less attractive in order to make Yukiko looks more attractive. The family volunteers to have Yukiko examined by a doctor to prove her good health to Segoshi, who is enthusiastic about the match. However, Tsuruko takes her time to investigate Segoshi and discovers that Segoshi's mother suffered from a mental disorder that could be hereditary. The match is called off. Teinosuke is bitterly disappointed because he had become heavily involved in the negotiations. Itani approaches him with another prospect, a wealthy bank manager who has five children Meanwhile, Taeko continues to make dolls which sell very well. Taeko's Russian friend Katharina, raised by her grandmother in China, divorced from an Englishman and with a daughter who lives in England, invites Taeko, Sachiko and Teinosuke while Yukiko watches Etsuko. Katharina shows Taeko that she started making dolls herself. They also meet her bother, her mother and her brother's friend Vronsky, all Russian exiles after the communist revolution. Taeko learns the sad story of Vronsky, who followed the girl he loved to Australia and even worked as a miner for a while, but she died before they could marry and he swore he would never marry anyone else. Sachiko's friend Jimba comes up with another prospect for Yukiko, a middle-aged widower, Nomura Minokichi, who works in a fishery and who lost his wife and his two children. He owns no property and depends entirely on his salary. This is a much worse prospect than the previous ones but Yukiko is getting older, but Sachiko is willing to consider him and begins investigations. Sachiko, Teinosuke, Etsuko, Taeko and Yukiko travel together to see the cherry blossoms. While Sachiko is sick from an indigestion, Her friend Niu introduces Sachiko to her westernized friend Sagara, a Tokyo-educated woman who recently returned from the USA where she lived with her husband before she had a nervous breakdown: Niu exhibits Sachiko as a typical Osaka lady. With them is also Shimozuma, a woman whose marriage is not going well. Tsuruko is sad that her husband Tatsuo has been assigned to manage a branch of the bank in Tokyo and she and the children will have to move to Tokyo with him. Tsuruko has never been in Tokyo. Tsuruko comes to spend a few days with her younger sisters, the first time in many years that all four are under the same roof. Their aunt Tominaga strongly suggests that Yukiko and Taeko move to Tokyo with the elder Tsuruko otherwise Tatsuo's prestige as the head of the family would be tarnished. Taeko is allowed to join a little later because of her doll business. Tsuruko and Tatsuo leave their Osaka house to their old handyman Kanei Otokichi, nicknamed Otoyan, and take the train for Tokyo with their six children and Yukiko, plus a maid and a nurse. At the station an old geisha, O-ei, recognizes Taeko, who was a little girl when O-ei was visiting her home. Taeko also meets Tatsuo's old friend Sekihara, another person she hasn't seen in many years. The group find temporary lodging in the house of relatives via an older brother of Tatsuo After a few days Tsuruko tells Sachiko that Yukiko is very unhappy and particularly misses taking care of little Etsuko. At the same time a doctor examines Etsuko and concludes that she's depressed. Teinosuke, however, didn't like Yukiko's influence on Etsuko and would prefer Etsuko to grow stronger. Teinosuke and Sachiko read in the newspapers of Japan's raids on China (the "Swatow Operation" of June 1939). Jimba pressured Sachiko to set a date for meeting with Namura, and Tsuruko sees that Yukiko is eager to do it because it's an excuse to travel back to Osaka: Tsuruko's apartment is too small for so many people (two adults and six children plus maid and Yukiko) and Yukiko misses her younger sisters and litte Etsuko. When Yukiko arrives in Osaka, she tells the sisters that in her opinion Tsuruko and Tatsuo have no intention of finding a bigger apartment: now that they are away from Osaka they don't care about status symbols anymore, and simply want to save money. Taeko is worried because in theory she is expected to move with them at some point. Sachiko has a miscarriage just before the day of the meeting, which forces them to postpone. Sachiko feels guilty that she lost the baby. She knows that Teinosuke was dreaming of a son and had almost abandoned any hope after ten years of no pregnancies. The meeting with Nomura doesn't go well at all. Teinosuke and Sachiko are annoying by many details, Nomura is only two years older than Teinosuke but looks much older, his house is small and messy. Nonetheless, Yukiko is willing to marry him. Sachiko knows why: Nomura, being of humble status, would not object if she visits her sisters as often as she likes. A husband like Nomura means freedom. But then Yukiko opens up to Taeko: she felt insulted that Nomura showed her the pictures of his dead wife and his dead children. Everybody agrees to find an excuse with Jimba and call off the negotiations. Yukiko returns to Tokyo.
A year goes by. Okubata has changed and now has a bad reputation, as someone who hangs out in the geisha district, so the sisters don't encourage his visits anymore. However, Okubata behaves as if he is Taeko's fiance, and Taeko accepts it as her fate. Taeko has taken up Western sewing and traditional Japanese dancing She also plans to spend some time in France to learn from the world of fashion, using the money left to her by her parents, money administered by Tatsuo. The dancing is also more than a hobby: she is studying to become a dance teacher under Saku, one of the last teachers of traditional dance. Ironically, her motivation is to make sure that she will be able to support Okubata once they get married: she has no confidence that Okubata will be able to make a decent living. Itakura is hired to take photographs at a dance performance. A former employee of Okubata, Itakura has studied photography in the USA for several years and now runs his own shop in town. He is Taeko's favorite photographer for the marketing material for her dolls. One month later Sachiko and Teinosuke are alarmed by a flood that hits the area where Etsuko's school is and where Taeko's sewing school is. just when she's likely to be there. Teinosuke and the maid O-haru manage to take Etsuko home, wading through the flooded streets. Their neighbor Stolz has a much harder time bringing back his children Rosemarie and Peter. Now the concern is for Taeko, because the rumors are that the area of the Mrs Tamaki's sewing school is the most at risk. Seeing the waters rise, Teinosuke sets out to find Taeko. Taeko is in fact trapped in the house of Mrs Tamaki with her little boy Hiroshi, with the water rising almost to the ceiling. Luckily, Itakura finds them and, risking his own life, manages to pull them on the roof. That's where Teinosuke finds them. Wet and muddy, the two men carry the exhausted and terrified Taeko home when the rain stops.
That adventure provides an excuse for Yukiko to return from Tokyo. She arrives when summer vacation has just started for the children and finds Taeko's dance teacher Saku dies. She lived a simple, lonely and poor life because she refused to compromise with modern styles. She never married and had no children. Very few people attend her funeral, and no relatives. Etsuko playing every day with her German friends Rosemarie, Peter and Fritz, but one day the father decides to return to Germany, due to the war.
Sachiko, Yukiko, Etsuko and the maid O-haru travel to Tokyo: Yukiko is returning to her sister's place after two months in Osaka, and Sachiko wants a doctor to visit Etsuko. Yukiko, Etsuko and her cousin Teruo (Tsuruko's oldest son) even spend a few hours with Peter and his father who are transiting in Tokyo in between ships. Sachiko doesn't like Tokyo, and is shocked by the mess and noise in her sister Tsuruko's house, but Tsuruko has six children and only one maid. Sachiko and Etsuko have to wait a few days because the doctor is out of town. There they experience a devastating typhoon that hits Tokyo and almost destroys Tsuruko's house. Sachiko and Etsuko then move to an inn. Sachiko and Tsuruko can finally spend some time alone together. Sachiko tells Tsuruko the story of the maid O-haru: her father and stepmother begged Sachiko to keep her, even without pay. Sachiko had a hard time with the girl because O-haru didn't wash herself and sometimes smelled really bad, and she was rather lazy. O-haru has been with her for five years already. Sachiko's trip is disrupted by a letter from Okutaba: he writes that he has evidence of a blossoming love affair between Taeko and Itakura that is certain to disgrace the family, since Itakura is of a much lower class. He describes Itakura as a man who has debts and deceives women. Sachiko suddenly realizes that, by taking O-haru with her, she left Taeko alone at home during the day, when Teinosuke is at work. Sachiko decides to return to Osaka immediately after the doctor examination. The doctor is back in town and so this is arranged for the following morning. In the evening she, Etsuko and O-haru take the night train to Osaka. Before leaving, Sachiko is reminded by Tsuruko that a marriage must be arranged for Yukiko before the end of the year: the following year is "bad". Back home, Sachiko confronts Taeko and shows her Okutaba's letter. Taeko denies that there is a love affair. She is simply grateful to Itakura for saving her life. She tells Sachiko that Okutaba has asked her to stop seeing Itakura and has asked Itakura the same. Itakura is offended by Okutaba's suspicions, but Taeko thinks that maybe there is some truth to them. However, she has a solution: Mrs Tamaki has to rebuild her sewing school damaged by the flood and intends to travel abroad during that time, and therefore Taeko could travel with her to France, where they could learn about French fashion. This way Taeko would stop seeing Itakura and Sachiko would also like that the trip put some distance between Taeko and Okutaba, who is no longer viewed favorably as Taeko's prospect. Sachiko now has to convince her husband Teinosuke to get the ok from Tatsuo and Tsuruko, while Taeko begins taking French classes. Sachiko receives a letter from Hilda Stolz, who is visiting relatives in the Philippines: her husband and Peter are already back in Germany, and she is sure that there will be no war because nobody wants it (for the first time the book mentions Hitler). Teinosuke and Sachiko take Etsuko to a kabuki show and she cries: it would have been the birthday of the child they lost. Tatsuo and Tsuruko deny their permission to Taeko's trip to France, and are in general appalled that she wants to become a working woman, demeaning to their social class (all of this delivered to her via a letter to Sachiko), and in any case Mrs Tamaki cancels her trip after being warned by friends that Europe may erupt soon in Europe. Therefore Taeko cancels her trip, but she doesn't give up her dream of becoming a working woman. Sachiko begins to suspect that there is a plan behind this determination, a plan that doesn't involve Okutaba, and makes Taeko confess. Taeko is in love with Itakura and the two are planning to get married. She prefers the uneducated child of poor peasants, who has learned a job in America, to the spoiled brat who has to beg his brother and his mother for money. She also tells Sachiko that Okutaba confessed not only to be seeing a geisha but even to having had an illegitimate child with a dancer. The last straw was when Itakura risked his life to save her from the flood while Okutaba simply inquired about her safety. So the real reason for Taeko's determination to learn a profession is that she and Itakura are preparing for possible economic sanctions: Taeko knows that Tatsuo and Tsuruko would never approve a marriage with a vulgar, uneducated, lower-class man, and may withhold the money for her marriage. The only considerations that stops Taeko is that her scandalous marriage may compromise Yukiko's chances of getting married. Surprisingly, Teinosuke, when informed by Sachiko, sides with Taeko: better Itakura than a spoiled worthless brat. The problem is that in a week Japan will enter a year not propitious to engagements, so there is only one week to find Yukiko's a husband, otherwise they will have to postpone one more year. Sachiko suspects that rumors about Taeko are scaring away prospective husbands for Yukiko. Yukiko returns to Osaka to attend another dance performance by Taeko. It could be the last one for a while due to the war in China. During the show a major incident takes place. Okutaba, disguised in the audience, spots Itakura taking pictures of Taeko and physically assails him, throwing his camera to the floor. Sachiko tells Yukiko about Taeko's secret engagement with Itakura. Yukiko is even more strongly opposed to it than Sachiko. As much as they dislike Okutaba, both sisters prefer Okutaba, whose family is reputable and rich, over Itakura. The Stolz house gets rented by a Swiss man and his Chinese wife. They have no children so Etsuko won't have playmates. Katharina leaves for Europe. She made a German friend, Rudolf, who invited her to stay with his sister in Germany, but her destination is England, to get reunited with her daughter. Teinosuke and the three sisters dine at the sushi place run by an old rude man, long their favorite restaurant.
While Sachiko and Yukiko are worried about Etsuko's scarlet fever, Sachiko has to face complains from the Swiss neighbors, the Boschs, about the noise caused by Etsuko's dog and her phonograph. One day a detective shows up telling them that this Bosch may not be Swiss after all and his "wife" may not be his wife after all. Taeko decides to travel to Tokyo and clarify with Tatsuo what money she has inherited from her parents. She reveals to Sachiko that her intention is to open a dress shop. Sachiko knows how opposed Tatsuo and Tsuruko are to Taeko becoming a working woman, but Taeko has a strong mind. Teinosuke convinces Sachiko to accompany Taeko. The meeting never happens because, before Taeko can confront her sister Tsuruko and Tatsuo, she is called urgently back to Osaka: Itakura is very ill at the hospital. Sachiko alone meets with Tsuruko and learns that they have already decided that Taeko has to marry Okutaba and the money is reserved for that occasion. Tsuruko heard of Taeko's love story with a man of the lower classes because that story caused a problem with someone who was interested in Yukiko. That rumor only increased Tsuruko's and Tatsuo's determination that Taeko marries Okutaba as soon as possible, so as to stop any gossip. Taeko realizes at the hospital that Itakura is suffering a lot: an infection has spread from the ear to the leg, and his parents are hesitating to give their consent to an amputation. Taeko knows that the doctor who operated Itakura is a mediocre doctor but Itakura's family is poor and naive. Taeko finally convinces them to consent to an amputation. The amputation, carried out by a better doctor, comes too late: Itakura dies in extreme pain. Throughout this ordeal Taeko has behaved like Itakura's fiance, exposing herself to scandal. Sachiko cannot deny to herself that she is happy about Itakura's death, which ends the scandal.
Meanwhile, Hilda Stolz writes that he has returned to Germany on a ship that traveled through the Suez canal. She has also taken her sick sister and her three children with her to Germany.
The third book opens with a surprise from Tsuruko: Tatsuo has found a prospect for Yukiko. Yukiko has been in Osaka for three months and it is time that she returns to Tokyo anyway. Tsuruko proposes that Yukiko meets the prospect and then returns to Tokyo. Sachiko and Teinosuke are shocked by the prospect: a very wealthy widower, Sawazaki, with two or three children from the first wife. Sawazaki is way richer than the declining Makiokas. The meeting is being arranged by Tatsuo's older sister Sugano, also a widow. Sachiko and Teinosuke are upset that little research seems to have been done about Sawazaki, as if his wealth meant that all other precautions should be abandoned. Sachiko decides to travel with Yukiko, and takes with her Taeko and Etsuko who can enjoy some tourism in that town. Sachiko is even more upset when she meets Tatsuo's sister and learns that Sawazaki has been induced to accept the meeting but was never crazy about the idea. On top of it, a small defect in Yukiko's eye comes out again. Sawazaki politely attends the meeting but it is obvious that he's not interested in marrying the 33-year-old Yukiko. The sisters, however, enjoy a day of fun catching fireflies. Afterwards, Sachiko and Taeko return to Osaka while Yukiko catches a train to Tokyo. On the train she shares the compartment with a man who looks familiar and keeps staring at her. Eventually she recognizes him as the first prospect to be presented to her when she was barely 20, Saigusa. He had been chosen by Tatsuo and Yukiko greatly displeased her brother-in-law by refusing him. Saigusa was a wealthy man too, but lived in the countryside and Yukiko, a city girl, had been too scared of a life in a backwards, isolated place. As expected Sawazaki refuses the marriage, the first time ever that the Makiokas have been refused by a marriage prospect. The Makiokas had never been so humbled.
On the 22nd anniversary of their mother's death Tatsuo has to organize the memorial and, in order to save money, he decides to commemorate their father's 16th anniversary at the same time. The war in Europe and the prolonged Japanese war in China make Tatsuo cautious about spending money. Their father had died at the age of 54, and their mother at the age of 36 when Sachiko was 14. She had fallen ill of a lung disease shortly after Taeko's birth. Sachiko sees Taeko in a taxi with Okutaba and learns from the maid O-haru that the two have been seeing each other frequently. When Okutaba's mother dies, Okutaba is expelled from the house by his brother and dishinerited. Sachiko learns that Okutaba has stolen objects from the family's shop. Taeko admits to Sachiko that she is back with Okutaba although what she feels is more pity than love. Teinosuke strongly dislikes Okutaba and Sachiko is now scared of another scandal caused by her younger sister, who is now 28. Tsuruko and some of her children arrive with Yukiko by train for the memorial. They meet a few friends, including Katharina's father, who gives news of Katharina, now in England trying to regain custody of her daughter.
Taeko spends more and more time at Okutaba's house, causing more and more distress to Teinosuke and Sachiko. Eventually Teinosuke travels to Tokyo and discusses the matter with Tsuruko who gets very angry and demands that Taeko moves to Tokyo with her to stop the affair. When Sachiko shows her Tsuruko's letter, Taeko decides to go and live by herself, even if this means that Tatsuo and Tsuruko will expel her from the family and disinherit her. Taeko informs Sachiko that Katharina got married: she married her boss, the president of an insurance company. Sachiko feels humiliated that Katharina can find a rich husband in six months when they have not been able to find a good husband for Yukiko in so many years, and despite the fact that Yukiko is so much better than Katharina. After Taeko leaves, Sachiko and Yukiko cannot see Taeko anymore.
Their friend Itani, who runs the beauty shop, tells them that their friend Niu has another prospect: a businessman who is a widower and has a 13-year-old daughter. Itani and Niu hastily organize a meeting with this Hashidera. Teinosuke accompanies Yukiko, but Sachiko is left out because Niu fears that Yukiko will looks dull compared with her sister. At the dinner Teinosuke realizes that Hashidera has been dragged into it against his will. We learn that Yukiko speaks English and French. Niu and Itani even drag Hashidera to Sachiko's house. Hashidera again looks uncomfortable. Sachiko and Teinosuke really like him, and a common friend, Kushida the doctor, has known Hashidera for a long time and highly recommends him. Teinosuke finds a business excuse to visit him and socialize, without mentioning Yukiko. Hashidera is clearly not looking for a new wife yet. Itani and Niu have been pressuring him in vain. Teinosuke writes him a letter explaining that Yukiko is very shy but she has a lot of good qualities. Unfortunately, Yukiko ruins everything with her shy behavior: when Hashidera invites her to a walk, Yukiko awkwardly refuses, and Hashidera takes it as an insult. Informed of the event, Sachiko cries bitter tears: Yukiko ruined her best prospect yet. Niu gets angry too that her efforts have been wasted in such a stupid way. Teinosuke again writes a letter to explain to Hashidera that Yukiko is simply a very shy girl. Hashidera replies that they are just not a good match: he wants a more lively wife.
The maid O-haru brings the news that Taeko has fallen ill and only Okutaba is taking care of her, and she is at his house. Yukiko decides to ignore the orders from Tsuruko and moves into Okutaba's house to take care of her sister, whose condition worsens rapidly. Sachiko too visits Taeko and is so scared by her condition that she writes to Tsuruko that Taeko may die. One night Taeko has a nightmare in which she sees the ghost of Itakura. Perhaps scared by that dream, she finally accepts to be transferred to a hospital. She is transferred secretly in an ambulance to avoid the scandal of disclosing that Taeko had stayed at Okutaba's house. At the hospital her condition rapidly improves. Sachiko receives a reply from Tsuruko: Tsuruko is relieved that Taeko is out of danger because the funeral would have been a difficult matter now that Taeko has been dishinerited. Tsuruko, in order words, is only interested in appearances, to save the honor of the family. Okutaba has been told not to visit Taeko, again to avoid a scandal, but he sneaks into the hospital from a back entrance. Yukiko, who has spent a few days in Okutaba's house, reports to Sachiko that Okutaba doesn't seem to have money. O-haru, who has been gossiping with Okutaba's housekeeper, tells Sachiko what she has learned. It turns out that Taeko has been receiving money and expensive gifts from Okutaba all along. Okutaba has spent all the money he received from his brother to please Taeko who has bought expensive clothes and waste money in many ways. The very reason why Okutaba has been expelled from his family has to do with Taeko. Okutaba has stolen jewels from the family's shop to give them to Taeko or to sell them in order to give Taeko money. The housekeeper witnessed Okutaba's descent into poverty and his devotion to Taeko. At the same time the housekeeper is convinced that Taeko never intended to marry Okutaba. Taeko had taken advantage of Okutaba even when she was in love with Itakura. The housekeeper knows for a fact that Taeko was telephoning Okutaba every day. Perhaps Itakura himself was in cahoots with Taeko to milk Okutaba as much as possible. Last but not least, Taeko is a heavy drinker. All of this comes as a shock to Sachiko, who thought that Taeko was paying her bills with her doll-making business, but the housekeeper thinks that Taeko makes very little money from that business, not enough to pay for her rent, food and her expensive taste. Even more shocking is the news that Taeko is in love with another man, a bartender named Miyoshi: the housekeeper heard several arguments between Okutaba and Taeko about this man. Sachiko therefore learns that Taeko is a cynical person who has seduced and ruined Okutaba and, now that he has run out of money, is ready to dump him for another man. Sachiko now realizes that she and Yukiko have been blind about Taeko. It is now obvious to her that Taeko never told her the truth. Sachiko doesn't share the revelations with her husband Teinosuke. She only tells Yukiko. Teinosuke takes Sachiko, Yukiko and Etsuko for the annual trip to Kyoto for the cherry blossoms. Taeko is released from the hospital and moves back into her apartment. Having heard of Germany's invasion of the Netherlands and of the possibility of air raids on England, Sachiko is worried for her friends Hilda Stolz and Katharina, one in Germany and one in England. She is happy that Japan's allies, the Germans, are winning. Japan's invasion of China is continuing and Okutaba is offered a golden position in occupied Manchuria to serve the Japan-appointed "emperor" of Manchuria. His brothers strongly encouraged Okutaba to accept the presigious and well remunerated position, promising to readmit him to the family. Taeko tells Sachiko and Yukiko that she hopes that he will accept because she wants to break up with him. The sisters are shocked. They remind Taeko of all the financial help that she has received from Okutaba. Taeko initially lies about it but then Yukiko, usually the shy one, confronts her with the evidence. Taeko, caught lying, simply shuts up. Okutaba refuses the position, upsetting both his family and Taeko. Sachiko still hasn't told anything to Teinosuke about Taeko's dissolute lifestyle. Sachiko and Yukiko learn that her friend Itani is selling her beauty shop and moving to the USA. Itani has a new prospect for Yukiko: a gentleman named Mimaki who comes from a noble family and has lived in several foreign countries, including the USA. He has no money because his business of architecture has collapse after the war started, but his rich family may give him money and a house once he starts a family. Itani knows him through her friend Kunishima. They are throwing a farewell party for Itani and Itani proposes that it also becomes a chance for Yukiko to meet Mimaki. The farewell party takes place in Tokyo and everybody loves Yukiko. Sachiko is worried that Yukiko will have to live in Tokyo, but Mimaki reveals that he would prefer to open his studio in Kyoto, closer to Osaka. The three sisters (Sachiko, Yukiko and Taeko), Itani and Mimaki are then to attend a kabuki show. Since they are in Tokyo, Sachiko and Yukiko feel compelled to pay a short visit to their sister Tsuruko. Taeko prefers not to join them, since she has been dishinerited. Tsuruko is happy to hear that there is a new prospect for Yukiko and regrets that Taeko didn't come to visit. Tsuruko cries when the sisters tell her that they are all going to a kabuki show, and Sachiko realizes that Tsuruko feels left out. That night Taeko reveals to Sachiko that... she is pregnant! The father is the bartender, Miyoshi. This is yet another shock caused by Taeko to Sachiko. Sachiko is again angry at her sister, ungrateful towards those who took care of her, indifferent to the fact that her scandal may ruin Yukiko's chance to get married, the very Yukiko who cared for Taeko like a nurse. Sachiko fears that Mimaki's aristocratic family will not accept Yukiko when they learn of her sister's escapade. Informed by Sachiko, Teinosuke meets Miyoshi and finds a very respectable man. Teinosuke believes that it was Taeko who seduced Miyoshi. Miyoshi accepts a plan to keep Taeko hidden away, under a false name, until the baby is born and then to marry her. Only O-haru would follow Taeko and know of the location. Teinosuke then looks for Okutaba and finds him renting a room in a shabby hotel. Okutaba accepts to keep Taeko's pregnancy secret but demands that Teinosuke reimbourses him of the money he lent Taeko over the years. After another meeting, Miyoshi relates that Mimaki is excited about Yukiko. Teinosuke's only concern is that Mimaki has no money and, given the war, it is not clear if he will make any money as an architect. Sachiko is excited about becoming the relative of a noble. The head of Mimaki's family invites the Makiokas to dinner and, after approving the marriage, announces that he will provide the couple with a house near Osaka. Yukiko accepts the proposal. Teinosuke has to write a letter in order to get a formal approval from Tatsuo, who is the head of the Makioka family. The war now features more prominently in the narrative, although still only like an echo: Katharina's father reports that Katharina is safe in a nice shelter in England, and Hilda Stolz writes that life is almost normal in Germany, and she sounds proud of how Germany and Japan are conducting themselves in the wars. Yukiko's wedding is marginally affected by the war because Japan rations rice. There remains the problem of Taeko. O-haru delivers the news to Sachiko and Yukiko that something is wrong with Taeko's pregnancy. Taeko suffers a lot and gives birth to a baby who dies right away. The doctor takes responsibility, but Sachiko fears that this is the result of Okutaba's and Itakura's curses. Taeko moves in with Miyoshi in a humble apartment. Sachiko, Teinosuke and Etsuko take the train with Yukiko to Tokyo, where the wedding will take place. We are only informed that Yukiko is nervous and that Sachiko is sad to see her house empty, and that Yukiko suffers from diarrhea during the train ride.

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