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Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
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Kitchen (edition 1994)

by Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus (Translator)

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3,289781,661 (3.69)158
Member:lkernagh
Title:Kitchen
Authors:Banana Yoshimoto
Other authors:Megan Backus (Translator)
Info:Washington Square Press (1994), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fiction, Japan, Translated Work, Short Stories, Death, Mourning, Read in 2012, 12 in 12 Challenge

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Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

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Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Mikage Sakurai, a young woman in Japan, is taking refuge in her kitchen. It is a few days after the death of her grandmother, who was her last living relative. Suffering from grief and loneliness, Mikage knows that she must pull herself together and search for a new apartment. Suddenly the doorbell rings, and it is a young man named Yuichi Tanabe, whom Mikage recognizes from the funeral. Yuichi invites her over to his apartment, where he lives with his mother, Eriko.

At Yuichi’s home, Mikage is introduced to Eriko and soon finds out that Yuichi’s mother was once his father; she is a transsexual who runs a club of some sort. Yuichi hints that she has undergone a sex change, when he tells Mikage that she has “had everything ‘done.’” Dazzled by her beauty and sparkling energy, Mikage immediately admires Eriko and identifies with Eriko’s sensitivity and independence. Returning her admiration, Eriko shows care and concern for Mikage and her difficult situation. Mikage accepts Eriko’s invitation to move into their apartment for a while, where Mikage sleeps on a sofa in the living room and cooks food for her new friends in the kitchen. Their kitchen becomes her favorite room in the house, a place where Mikage becomes creative and optimistic.

One day as Mikage is moving her things from her grandmother’s apartment, she gets a call from Sotaro, her ex-boyfriend. They decide to meet in a park, where Sotaro questions Mikage about her life and her new living arrangement. Sotaro distrusts her relationship with Yuichi. Sotaro thinks that Yuichi is a strange young man and also mentions that Yuichi has a girlfriend at school that he has been with for a year. The conversation convinces Mikage that she no longer has feelings for Sotaro, and she also realizes that she must move out of Yuichi’s home in order not to interfere with his life. Later that night, Yuichi helps Mikage make new address cards, which locate the story in Tokyo.

In her new home, Mikage begins to feel better, although she still feels lonely and depressed at times and subject to intense moods. On the bus one day, after she has left her grandmother’s apartment for good, she observes a young girl and a grandmother, which causes her to break down in tears. She gets off the bus in despair and is only cheered up when she looks into the window of a kitchen, which reminds her how much she wants to live.

In the next scene, Mikage has a dream in which Yuichi asks her to stay at their home longer and in which Mikage’s grandmother is still alive. Mikage wakes up to find elements of the dream coming true in real life, and that Yuichi might have had the same dream. While Mikage thinks of this mystical and foreshadowing event as “utterly amazing,” she does not dwell upon it.

As Mikage lives in their home, her friendship deepens with Yuichi and Eriko, and she gets stronger. Still, she understands that she will have to move out one day.

Eriko died in the autumn. A man at her club has stalked and killed her in a hate crime. Mikage finds this out several months after the fact, when Yuichi phones in the middle of an early-winter night to inform her. Mikage has by this time moved out of Eriko and Yuichi’s home, into her own apartment.

Upon hearing of Eriko’s death, Mikage goes immediately to see Yuichi. He tries to explain why he has not told her of his mother’s death because of denial and of not wanting to hurt her. Mikage and Yuichi console each other, realizing that they are both all alone in the world now. Mikage reads Eriko’s will, which contains premonitions of her death.

The next day, Yuichi asks Mikage to stay at his home and cook a big dinner. As Mikage cleans the kitchen, she reminisces over the six months she lived with Eriko and Yuichi. She also reflects on the past summer when she energetically taught herself to cook while living there. She now has a job as an assistant at a cooking school run by a famous teacher. Mikage cooks a feast, and she and Yuichi have a long, deep conversation. Mikage feels close to Yuichi, and he asks her to move back in, although they are both unclear about the nature of their relationship, as it is filled with shared pain.

Mikage goes to her cooking school the next day where she is asked to go on a business trip. During work, Okuno, who identifies herself as Yuichi’s classmate, shows up and angrily confronts Mikage, asking her to leave Yuichi alone, for his own good. That night, Mikage and Yuichi go to a tea shop together, and Mikage tells him that she is leaving town for a few days. She agrees to bring him back something from her trip, and she feels strong emotions for him, including jealousy over Okuno. Later that night, alone, Mikage recalls a conversation she had with Eriko, during which Eriko explained why she became a woman.

While doing laundry before her trip, Mikage runs into Chika, a transsexual from Eriko’s club. They have lunch together and Chika tells Mikage that she is worried about Yuichi, who seems depressed and unhappy. Chika asserts that the two of them must be in love and gives Mikage the address of a hotel to which Yuichi is going away. Chika wants to help Yuichi because she feels that a little help could have saved Eriko’s life.

Mikage goes on her trip and reflects, from a distance, upon her life and its changes. The first night away, she phones Yuichi, who is alone in a hotel room, which makes Mikage feel sad and worried about him and their relationship. After eating a delicious, hot meal that lifts her spirits, Mikage gets an idea. She hires a taxi for the long ride to Yuichi’s hotel and then climbs a balcony to present Yuichi with the same food that she had enjoyed. This moment is a critical point in their relationship; they discuss their situation and their trust for each other deepens. Mikage convinces Yuichi not to disappear or succumb to depression.

Mikage spends the rest of her trip sampling food and walking near the sea. On her last night away, she gets a phone call from Yuichi, who has gone back to Tokyo. Yuichi sounds happy, and both of them look forward to the next day, when they will meet at the train station for Mikage’s return to Tokyo. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 12, 2016 |
I've never heard of this book or author until I read Stephanie Perkins's "Anna and the French Kiss". I ordered two of the books mentioned in Anna and the French Kiss including this one.

Today, I received my copy of the book, it's much smaller than I thought, but can't wait to see what it is about.

I'm half way through the book, and all that comes to mind is one word: "strange". I always have this barrier when reading books written by far easterners, the dragon eyed variety. Their culture is mesmerizing, but for some reason, I don't understand it. I simply can't relate to it, even in mundane emotions... it's as if their feelings and thoughts are related to their mysterious culture. The book is poetic, but I can't give it a five, I simply don't feel it.

It's about death, grieve, kitchens, food, the full moon, first loves, and Transsexualism.

But in all honesty, Kitchen isn't a story, it's about 2 short stories. In the end, this book isn't my cup of tea. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
I've never heard of this book or author until I read Stephanie Perkins's "Anna and the French Kiss". I ordered two of the books mentioned in Anna and the French Kiss including this one.

Today, I received my copy of the book, it's much smaller than I thought, but can't wait to see what it is about.

I'm half way through the book, and all that comes to mind is one word: "strange". I always have this barrier when reading books written by far easterners, the dragon eyed variety. Their culture is mesmerizing, but for some reason, I don't understand it. I simply can't relate to it, even in mundane emotions... it's as if their feelings and thoughts are related to their mysterious culture. The book is poetic, but I can't give it a five, I simply don't feel it.

It's about death, grieve, kitchens, food, the full moon, first loves, and Transsexualism.

But in all honesty, Kitchen isn't a story, it's about 2 short stories. In the end, this book isn't my cup of tea. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
Interesting simple and sad tales. I didn't really know what to expect from an author named Banana, but I liked this quick read quite a bit. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book very much. It was a very quick read about loss, grief and recovery. Although the book is short, it is charming and thought-provoking. If you want to read a story that you'll always remember and be touched by, this is the book for you.

( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
For English-language readers, the appeal of "Kitchen" lies in its portrayal of the lives of young Japanese.
 
Banana Yoshimoto won immediate fame in Japan with the publication of this pair of novellas about two bold and guileless women grappling with emotional loss.
 
Yoshimoto's oriental concision is sometimes idiosyncratic and haiku-like ..., but it's a quality of poignant, dignified resilience that makes this little work worthwhile...
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Banana Yoshimotoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amitrano, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Backus, MeganTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaneshiro-Jager, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlecht, Wolfgang E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
The place I like best in this world is the kitchen. (Kitchen)
Wherever he went, Hitoshi always had a little bell with him, attached to the case he kept his bus pass in. (Moonlight Shadow)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671880187, Paperback)

Two stories, "Kitchen" and "Moonlight Shadow," told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young Japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy. Reprint. NYT.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Two stories, "Kitchen" and "Moonlight Shadow," told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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