Yukiko, the third of the four sisters, still unmarried at the age of thirty. She is a slender, delicate-looking beauty whose dress, appearance, and manner are thoroughly Japanese and suggest a sheltered maiden of old. She graduated from a ladies’ seminary with honors in English and understands Western music better than she does Japanese music. Her shy, gentle manner masks a complex, intelligent, and critical nature. She is too reserved to talk frankly, and her overt docility causes much confusion and embarrassment to those seeking a good husband for her. She loves children and is especially attached to her niece, Etsuko.
Taeko, nicknamed Koi-san (which means “small daughter”), the youngest of the sisters, in her mid-twenties, but the most worldly and independent. Stylish Western clothes suit her firm, plump body and round face, but, paradoxically, she studies traditional Japanese dance and uses her artistic talents to create dolls to sell and to exhibit. Lively and gay, but also practical, she saves her earnings and is determined to be a financially independent professional woman. Impatient to get married but forced by Japanese custom to wait until Yukiko is married, Taeko exhibits willful behavior that complicates her sisters’ lives.
Sachiko, the second sister, in her thirties. She is the mistress of the Ashiya branch of the family. In appearance the healthiest of the sisters but actually the weakest physically, she falls between the extremes of her younger sisters in style and outlook; she wears Western clothes in the summer and Japanese clothes the rest of the year and is very emotional. Her father’s favorite, she still has something of the spoiled child about her, but she is devoted to her sisters and labors on their behalf, using her social position to help Taeko sell dolls and to search actively for a husband for Yukiko.
Teinosuke, an accountant. He took the Makioka name when he married Sachiko. Although he is a...
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