Kitchen Banana Yoshimoto

The Kitchen banana Yoshimoto PDF is a highly-acclaimed novel and is regarded as one of the major representations of the Japanese’ way of life, ‘The Kitchen’ by Banana Yoshimoto is a novel that gives a deeper insight into Japan’s pop culture. From the characters’ gender changes to life-changing decisions, the novel draws immense appraisal for bringing forth the culture of a typical Japanese family set up.

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We see characters that have to switch from the usual gender roles after losing loved ones and hence blurring the line between women and men’s roles as per Japanese culture.

Gender changes

At the prior stages of the novel, Mikage loses a close relative, which leaves an emotional scar that eventually leads him to make some life-altering decisions. The agony, despair, and utter loneliness force him to decide to turn into a “woman”. Mikage decides to do everything by himself, which includes learning how to cook and eventually making the Kitchen a safe haven.

The woman here symbolizes the role of a woman in the Japanese family setup. As a Japanese man, you are deprived of free will. The Japanese pop culture dictates that men have to go work to fend for their families, leaving very little time for self-recreation and actualization. So, when Mikage decides to take up female roles, he gets to enjoy the full benefits of being a Japanese woman.

Death and its impact

Throughout the novel, the author addresses death and the traumatizing effects that consequently follow. The novel starts with Mikage reminiscing in deep thought and pain after losing a close relative. Shortly afterward, Mikage loses another friend, Ericko. These two traumatizing events drive Mikage to turn into a woman, a decision that takes his life on a completely different turn. Ericko similarly lost close relatives, which brought major consequences. However, unlike Mikage, Ericko doesn’t last long after the ordeal and ends up making decisions that cost him his life.

Another character in the novel ‘Kitchen’ by Banana Yoshimoto, Yuichi, has a self-confinement character that is a result of losing many loved ones. Arguably, Yuichi’s lack of real acknowledgment of Mikage’s blossoming love for him emanates from all the trauma of losing so many friends and relatives. Yuichi gets so entangled in desperation that he fails to realize that Mikage is developing a liking for him.

The gender aspect

The novel portrays the strength of a woman in numerous instances. Mikage, for example, decides to take a Katsudon dish to Yuichi at midnight despite all odds against the act. Firstly, she has to pay a lump sum of fare to reach the destination, at one time even prompting the cab driver to confirm that the two are headed in the right direction. That’s not all: Mikage still has to go on a rough patch up to Yuichi’s room, without the assurance of even finding Yuichi home—she even bruises her arm along the way.

Women are Mentally Stronger than Men

Yoshimoto also portrays women as being mentally stronger than men. Men tend to handle grief differently compared to women—men prefer to stay alone and get consumed by feelings of grief and despair, as was the case with Yuichi. In the aftermath of Ericko’s death, Yuichi opts to travel to Isehara- a residence mainly occupied by monks to grief alone. At the solitary location, Yuichi feeds on a meatless dish of tofu, a huge contradiction to his usual tastes back home.

Chika, who is part of both Mikage and Yuichi’s circle, goes ahead to reminisce how the tendency of men opting to keep their feelings bottled has often resulted in more pain. After losing loved ones, Ericko goes ahead to make wrong decisions, which eventually lead to his death, instead of finding solace in his friends, Mikage and Chika. If only men were open to sharing more of their fears and emotions, the world would be a better place.


The author has dramatically covered the theme of loneliness in light of losing a loved one. At the very first stages, we see Mikage alone in the Kitchen, deep in thought and sleeplessness after losing Ericko a few days earlier. Moreover, Mikage’s complicated relationship with Yuichi also adds to the loneliness. After taking the trip to Isehara at midnight to deliver the Katsudon dish to Yuichi, Mikage is back at her Kitchen, lonely and desperate, clouded with thoughts of never seeing Ericko again.

Finding Closure

Though it’s not clear whether Mikage and Yuichi are indeed in love, some sort of affection seems to be blooming. After the two have lost close friends and relatives, Yuichi and Mikage gain some closure cooking together. The meal preparation and cleaning of the Kitchen together blooms love between the pair, and Mikage feels the need to spend more time with Yuichi. Yuichi, however, is keener on staying alone to ease the pain, making Mikage feel sidelined.

Yuichi, too is lonely, and arguably handles the moments of desperation worse than the rest. While both Mikage and Chika choose to confide in each other after facing the loss of Ericko, Yuichi chooses to keep to himself, as usual. That is why Yuichi flees to Isehara at a monks’ residence that is well renowned for majorly offering tofu dishes since the monks abstain from eating meat.

The feminine perspective

Perhaps I should mention that the Kitchen Banana Yoshimoto PDF heavily dwells on the feminine perspective of the world. The title itself – ‘Kitchen’- is a place generally reserved for women as men go out to toil hard to fend for the family. This female perspective is not just according to the typical Japanese family set up but is the case in many other areas of the world.

Banana Yoshimoto has gone a long way in describing the looks of various characters to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. When Chika approaches Mikage at a restaurant, the author describes Chika’s facial characteristics as well as her hair and overall appearance. Women will generally tend to compliment such looks on sight, unlike men.

Lastly, the author describes Chika’s tears as beautiful, which is another sign of the book’s female perspective. Women are more likely to cry as a way of letting go of burdening thoughts and experiences, while on the other side, men see crying as a sign of weakness.


All in all, Kitchen Banana Yoshimoto PDF is a great read for anyone looking to explore the themes of grief, desperation, death, as well as the healing process involved in such situations. Yoshimoto emphasizes the need for self-fulfillment, which is a great step people take when dealing with grief. The characters in Yoshimoto’s novel tend to find happiness and peace at the solitude places that provide calm and a break from life. Likewise, we can follow the characters’ examples when dealing with grief as we find ourselves and find closure after losing close relatives and acquaintances.

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