Site Loader
Rock Street, San Francisco

In Kitchen by
Banana Yoshimoto, the main character, Mikage is faced with the loss and absence
of love in a variety of situations. Mikage is first confronted with loss with
the death of her parents, and then again with the death of her grandmother. And
again with the break up of her boyfriend, and then again with Eriko. Yuichi
also has had his share of loss, he lost his first mother at a young age and
then his father later turning into his second mother; therefore, he lost the
love of a father. He was also very close to Mikage’s grandmother and wants to
do everything he can to help Mikage. Yuichi and Mikage are bonded through their
various losses and learn to love in a new way.  

The novel opens with the death of
Mikage’s grandmother. Mikage, who is also the narrator of the story is thrown
into an emotional frenzy after the only person she has ever loved deeply has
passed away. She feels an immense feeling of desolation after knowing that she
will have to go on in reality without the love that always kept her warm. “The
hum of the refrigerator kept me from thinking of my loneliness.” (Yoshimoto 5) The
kitchen acts as a distraction and a safe haven, somewhere she can escape
reality. The refrigerator represents a love that will always be there, it
represents a sense of love that Mikage is familiar with. Which is why the
surroundings of a kitchen are so comforting. After experiencing so many losses
in her short life, Mikage stores a lot of her love in the kitchen so no matter
what happens in reality, she has the familiarity of something to retreat to and
remind herself of the love that she is capable of feeling. Mikage is later
taken in by a young man named Yuichi Tanabe, and his mother Eriko Tanabe. The Tanabes did not have to
take in Mikage, since no one else was offering her a home and she had her own
apartment, they could have easily not taken her in. The Tanabes understood the
fear and anguish and grief she felt. Mikage, Yuichi, and Eriko come together to
build a new sense of belonging through the connection of loss. Their bond is so
strong because of the grief they have all suffered, they know what it’s like to
be alone and to have no one. In return for nothing, they offer Mikage a sense
of hope and light and act as a guide for her. They help one another survive. Yuichi understands the loss of love after losing
his first mother to cancer at a young age, and he was also close with Mikage’s
grand mother and also feels a sense of loss at her death. Yuichi and his mother
act as a sense of comfort for Mikage. “I looked around, nodding and murmuring
approvingly, “Mmm, mmm” it was a good kitchen. I fell in love with it at first
sight.” (Yoshimoto 10) Mikage instantaneously falls in love with the Tanabe’s
kitchen, and the connection she feels towards Yuichi is also immediate. Yoshimoto
uses Yuichi to convey that building up a relationship can help reduce the pain
of losing someone you love. After meeting Eriko, Mikage finds herself
captivated by her. “This was his
mother? Dumbfounded, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.” (Yoshimoto 11) She finds
herself falling in love with Yuichi’s mother as well. The concept of loving
again after repeated losses is explored through Mikage, and because of
experiencing so many losses at a young age, she has the ability to love more
deeply than the average 20 something year old. She also has the ability to look
more closely at tiny details. “There was a warm light, like her affirmage,
softly glowing in my heart.” (Yoshimoto 12) The author uses magical realism to
illustrate Mikage’s attention to detail. “Wow!” I said, on the verge of tears.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

“I’m so happy!” (Yoshimoto 31) This quote really shows how something so little
can provide Mikage with so much happiness. After feeling so out of place after
the death of her grandmother, Eriko has made her feel like she is apart of the
family and not just a stranger. The banana cup is a symbol of the acceptance
and love that Eriko and Yuichi feel for her, it also represents that Mikage now
also has a place in the kitchen. After not having a home after the loss of her
grandmother, the banana cup also represents of sense of homeliness and a
feeling of love that Mikage long forgot.

            Kokuhaku is the Japanese concept of
confessing one’s love to someone. This is normally done when a man or woman
declares their love to another and hopes to begin dating the other person. In
Western culture, the concept of love is a big one. You don’t say “I love you”
to someone you just met, but the Japanese do the complete opposite. Kokuhaku
mark the start of a relationship no matter how many dates the person has been on;
a relationship kick starts after a confession. Mikage and Yuichi do things
together and it is obvious that they have feelings for one another, but of
course they refer to themselves as good friends since there is no confession of
love. Through their shared experiences of loss, Mikage and Yuichi have the
ability to love each other on a deeper level and have a more in depth
relationship than the average person of their age. Sotaro is someone that
Mikage once loved, but after they meet up it is obvious that Mikage is no
longer attracted or in love with him. “From deep in my heart, my eyes asked the
question: Before it’s too late, do you still feel anything for me? ‘Chin up,
kid!’ He smiled, but the answer was clear in his own eyes.” (Yoshimoto 26)
Mikage again after a relationship she cared deeply about has changed
drastically. Mikage has mentioned that she could never keep up with Sotaro’s
“upbeatness”, Japanese culture is one that values face and keeping problem to
oneself because it would inconvenience others. Sotaro kept a façade to prevent
anyone from seeing the bad things, while Mikage didn’t care about people seeing
the bad things. This is why her love with Yuichi is so much stronger and so
much more genuine, she doesn’t have to be another version of herself around him
and they can openly talk about their struggles without the fear that it will
inconvenience the other person. Losing Sotaro meant that Mikage lost a part of
her life where she felt in control, her relationship with Yuichi shows
significant character development, she doesn’t feel the need to conform to
Japanese societal conventions anymore. And instead is finding herself outside
the context of traditional norms and stereotypes. “For some reason there’s
always death around us. My parents, my grandfather, my grandmother…your real
mother, even Eriko. My god – in this gigantic universe there can’t be a pair
like us. The fact we’re friends is amazing. All this death…all this death.”
(Yoshimoto 50) This is the first time Mikage truly opens up to someone in the
book. After the death of Eriko, Mikage and Yuichi again are bonded through
grief. Their love for each other grows stronger through the loss of Eriko. Mikage and Yuichi are
“painfully connected” by grief. They know what many their age do not, they know
the pain of losing someone you love and that your existence can cease any moment.

But this reality does not stop them from loving or living.

              Loss is the
governing force of our lives. It is the source of everything, most importantly
the source of love and community. Loss was the love that brought Mikage and
Yuichi together, our losses connect us. Mikage kept reaching out and through
that, she created new families through loss and learned to love in a deeper and
more meaningful way. As humans, will be lost at some point in our loves, but
that does not mean that we should stop learning to love in unexpected ways and
stop reaching out. 

Post Author: admin


I'm Dora!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out