Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

DaidokoroI have seen so many review of this book, many said it was good and few said it wasn’t that good.  I am curious with this book since a couple of years ago but something always distracted me and ended up picking other book from the shelf. Last week, I was in the mood for light reading from thin book and my hand finally picked Kitchen.

I think Kitchen is really good, it mainly talks about how we deal with death. There are two stories in one book, one deals with the lost of close relative while other deals with the lost of lover.

Kitchen is a 102 page story about a woman named Mikage Sakurai. She had been living with her grandma since childhood. Her grandma was her only living relative. The story began when her grandma passed away leaving her all alone. In her lonely days, a man younger than her who had once worked with her grandma asked her to live with him and his mother. Yuichi Tanabe and his mother, Eriko, are very nice to her…but she soon found out that Yuichi’s family was not an ordinary family. His mom was actually his father. His father loved his mother so much and when she passed away, she decided she wanted to be a woman and named himself after his wife. Both are very genuine people. She had wonderful time there but when she moved from the house to live independently, bad news reached to her ear. Both Yuichi and Mikage dealt with another lost in their own way.

Not only the story was about dealing with death, I also felt that it was a kind of love story. And you know how I never read romance. This kind of love story was something I didn’t mind at all. It was a love that grew slowly through live, it’s not focusing much on the love affair. The live of Tanabe family was rather bizarre but somehow I can feel how that kind of finally can exist in our community (well, not in Indonesia but it could happen in another part of the world).  I really like the interaction between all three main characters in this story, Mikage, Yuichi and Eriko. Eriko was my favorite characters of all, just reading about her made my heart brighten…I can imagine how it feels to meet someone like her. I know I would make her or him my best friend.

My favorite quote: (page 41)

“Yes. But if a person hasn’t ever experienced true despair, she grows old never knowing how to evaluate where she is in life; never understanding what joy really is. I’m grateful for that.”

Beautiful Eriko said that sentences 🙂

The second story is called Moonlight Shadow. Moonlight Shadow is so Japanese!! I grew up with stories from the land of the rising sun…I am so used with this kind of supernatural story. This story was written through ONLY 41 pages and somehow it felt longer. I like how it covered pass present and what to expect in the future after the one man you loved the most passed away.

Satsuki lost her high school sweet heart and felt like her world stopped moving. She was in despair and unable to move on. At the same time, Hiiragi, her boyfriend’s little brother, lost his girlfriend. They both died together. Satsuki tried to forget the pain by jogging while Hiiragi by going to school wearing his girlfriend’s sailor uniform. Both were unable to let go of the people the love. But then something happened that made them able to let go their loved ones.

I really like both stories and I know I will read more by this author.

Book Detail:

Title: Kitchen
Author: Banana Yoshimoto (Translator: Megan Backus)
Language: English (Original: Japan)
Pages: 150
Rating4 books


  1. Detailnya bagus yah? Banana Yoshimoto kayaknya hobinya nulis tentang kematian, bukunya yg lain (hardboiled & hard luck) juga itu temanya.

    1. Iya 🙂 walaupun bukunya tipis tapi mendetail dan berasa kayak buku tebal aja.
      Sebenernya saya tertarik sama Lizard. Udah baca belum?

    1. She is quite famous among Japanese literature readers, I hope you’ll give her a try one day 😉
      I am glad I finally read her works

  2. It’s a nice book to read, and probably one of her better works. One of the problems with her writing is that it is all pretty similar – and sometimes forgettable…

  3. Your comment about the love story made me think some more about why I write Romance. I think a lot of people assume the genre isn’t very big, or that most of it is unrealistically focused on the romance. Seems to me that most of the stories I really liked in the SF/F field had a romance in it somewhere. The Anne McCaffrey books, for example. Almost all of them have a love interest in them somewhere, though in most it’s not the driving force. There are some remarkably realistic romance writers out there. Others are totally off the wall. The only thing that has to happen is that the couple must be happy to be a couple at the end.

    1. I have never minded the romance in a story as long as it’s not the main focus of the story. Just like you said, some sci-fi you like has romance in it. Most books I’ve read also have a bit of romance. Even King’s books still have romance. Pure romance where the story only focus on how the man and the woman finally end up together (the ones you’ve mentioned last) is the one I consider as not my cup of tea 😉

  4. I love this book. Did you know the second story was based on the song Moonlight Shadow? I like it very much, especially the lyrics. Tony is right, all of her books are similar. I don’t mind that. Some are as good as this, some a bit less. I didn’t like Tsugumi so much but NP is very good, so are her short stories.

    1. I have never heard of the song before…who sings it?

      You and Tony’s comments make me cueious abot her other works….wondering what do you too mean about being the similar.

      1. Once you’ve read a few, you can see the similarities: young twenty-something women, mental illness, supernatural themes, lesbian undertones, not fitting into Japanese society…

        Many readers like the way her style feels comfortable, but for others it can get a little repetitive.

        1. Mental illness? I think Migake has no mental illness.
          But I get what you mean. It’s like Mitch Albom, I read 3 books and decided that it’s enough.

          I haven’t rooted her as fav author yet, will see what happen after another 2 or 3 books…will I see the similar pattern or not. But it wont be anytime soon because I like to give space between books by same author.

          Thank you Tony 🙂

  5. Welcome to the world of Banana Yoshimoto. Yes Tony is right, it tends to be repetitive. Goodbye Tsugumi is her full length novel, so I prefer it than her others. But Kitchen is good too. I would still pick her books up if it is published, I think I just wouldn’t buy it.

    1. I think I saw goodbye Tsugumi in the library. But I am interested with Lizard tho.

      Same as you, I like to read more of hers but it’s not something I want to buy

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