On the eve of war the Makioka family, representative of an old merchant class, found themselves on the financial and social decline. Their initial refusal to recognize this is proclaimed by a finicky attitude to the marriage proposals for the hand of Yukiko, now thirty. She is the epitome of Japanese womanhood-fragile, silent and obedient. She rejects the Western mannerisms and ideals of the youngest sister, Tacko, who is waiting impatiently for Yukiko's marriage so that her own secret, unacceptable, liaison might be acknowledged. The two live at the house of Schiko, the third sister, whose concern and love prevent her from forcing them to abide by tradition and live at the house of the eldest sister, Tsuroko, who has now moved to Tokyo- away from the pressure of pretense, away from tradition and away from the responsibility of ruling the collateral branches of the Makioka family. As the nubility of Yukiko, and therefore her younger sister, decreases, desperate recuperative measures are taken at the expense of protocol and honor. A suitable man is found just as Taeko's illegitimate pregnancy threatens to invalidate the preparations. All ends well, however. Poised and perceptive, the book expresses similar themes of the previous book Some Nettles -- dying tradition and dying aristocracy.