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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  42,117 ratings  ·  3,403 reviews
Banana Yoshimoto's novels have made her a sensation in Japan and all over the world, and Kitchen, the dazzling English-language debut that is still her best-loved book, is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published April 17th 2006 by Grove Press (first published January 30th 1988)
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Zsuzsanna "Most editions also include a novella entitled Moonlight Shadow, which is also a tragedy dealing with loss and love." (Wikipedia)
I have seen two…more
"Most editions also include a novella entitled Moonlight Shadow, which is also a tragedy dealing with loss and love." (Wikipedia)
I have seen two different editions so far and both of them included Moonlight Shadow, that's the one with Satsuki in it - I guess you had a different edition. It's not part of Kitchen though, it's a different story so you didn't miss anything important regarding that. (less)
Kate Harrison I heard about this on youtube, can’t remember with booktuber it was, I have heard quite a few of them talking about it. I have heard people giving it…moreI heard about this on youtube, can’t remember with booktuber it was, I have heard quite a few of them talking about it. I have heard people giving it a good review and goodreads rating. I don’t know why I didn’t like it specifically, I never connected with the characters or felt the relationships were fully explained. The concept of the kitchen linking this together felt poorly executed. (less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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There's something about Japanese writers. They have the unparalleled ability of transforming an extremely ordinary scene from our everyday mundane lives into something magical and other-worldly. A man walking along a river-bank on a misty April morning may appear to our senses as an ethereal being, barely human, on the path to deliverance and self-discovery.
There's something deeply melancholic yet powerfully meaningful about the beautiful vignettes they beget. Few other writers are capable of
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, fiction
Kitchen and its accompanying story Moonlight Shadow comprise the first novella by award winning Japanese novelist Banana Yoshimoto. Both stories are told through the eyes of young women grieving following the death of a loved one, and deal with how that death plays a profound role in relationships going forward. Told in straight forward prose leaving nothing to chance, Yoshimoto tells two elegant stories.

In Kitchen, Mikage Sakurai had just lost her grandmother, the last person in her family to
Jim Fonseca
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-authors
Can cooking help you cope with the despondency you feel from loss? I’m not talking about wolfing down garlic mashed potatoes from a pan; I’m talking about a multi-course gourmet meal that you are willing to toss out if it’s not perfect and start all over again. That’s the theme of Kitchen. Our main character is a twentyish-woman who lost her father at an early age and then her mother. She went to live with grandparents but her grandfather died, and then her grandmother, and now she has no living ...more
Jason Pettus
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, let's face it; I love everything Banana Yoshimoto's ever written! But that said, she's not for everyone; she's a minimalist storyteller, at least in my opinion, able to turn the emotional state of the right reader with the flick of just one beautiful perfect phrase, but only if you're ready to catch that beautiful perfect phrase and appreciate it for what it is. Give up on this review yet? Then you shouldn't be reading Yoshimoto! Actually consisting of two novellas, Kitchen (named after the ...more
Jr Bacdayan
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book on healing, a lovely look at the hurting human heart and its captivating reflection. Convalescence has never been so beautiful. One has to admit that the theme of loss in literature has been one of the most exploited and has been done so masterfully by the best. But never have I encountered one on recovery where it has been handled as exquisitely.

“Everyone we love is dying. Still, to cease living is unacceptable.”

When you lose someone, a void is created. You seek to fill that
"People aren't overcome by situations or outside forces; defeat invades from within."

I didn't like this book. It comprises a novella (Kitchen) and short story (Moonlight Shadow), but I'm not sure how much is the book's fault, and how much can be attributed to being set in an unfamiliar culture (Japanese teens/twenties), possibly bad translation, and that although the atmosphere is contemporary, it was actually written and set nearly 30 years ago.

I was expecting lyrical language, and quirky
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
One of the many things I love about goodreads is that a person is able to see what other “friends” think about a novel before committing oneself to reading it. I would have never read KITCHEN had I not seen that Mariel, Oriana, and Jason Pettus, three of my friends, all thought highly of this slim book.

But, even with the high ratings of these three “friends”, I still had to find out information about Banana Yoshimoto, the author. So I went to Wikipedia (obviously, where else would I go?) and
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Japanese schoolgirls in distress
Recommended to Jaidee by: A Japanese schoolgirl talking with her mouth full of Soba!
Shelves: two-stars-books
2 " quirky, lazy, sloppy" stars !!

I wanted to like this book very much. In the end, I couldn't !

Poor writing, incongruent character psychologies and inane dialogue took any enjoyment away from a rather sweet melancholy love story.

Another little novella was included in this volume (Moonlight Shadow). I do not have the patience nor the stamina to read it.

Lynne King
...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 it.

Samadrita in her excellent review began with:

There's something about Japanese writers. They have the unparalleled ability of transforming an extremely ordinary scene from our everyday mundane lives into something magical and other-worldly.

I thoroughly agree with her and that magical quality transforms what could have

A couple of days ago, I watched a film called Millenium Actress, a Japanese anime film centered around the life of a once wildly popular Japanese film star. I loved it for its lovely story as well as its wonderful animation, but most of all for its peculiar disregard of many of the 'rules' of film that I hadn't realized I unconsciously followed until they were subverted. This sort of bending and breaking of my own sensibilities into something I had never considered something that would work
Aug 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is, hands down, the worst thing I've read in recent years.

Let's start with the translation, because that is largely to blame for my utter disgust. The prose is terrible. Awkward, contradictory, inconsistent, hackneyed and immature. (Apparently not so in the original Japanese which has been hailed as poetic and lyrical. Even given my limited knowledge of Japanese, I can see how this would be the case.) This is what I would expect from an electronic translator, e.g. google-translate and its
Now that I teach English as my main job I am more than ever aware of how language shapes and limits what can be expressed, how it makes and remakes the social world as it is made and remade. I have read few books from the Japanese, but I would wager I can tell such a text after reading a page! Perhaps it was the themes, not only the flavour of the language, that made this taste so distinctly Japanese to me. Quirky relationships, dramatic melancholy, organised and comfortable domesticity, ...more
Paul Bryant
Jun 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I did a quick audit of my Japanese cultural input and came up with the following :


Tokyo Story – beautiful acknowledged masterpiece
Nobody Knows – great indy
Kikujiro – worth watching
Love Exposure – quite insane, probably brilliant, unmissable, but you should be warned that it’s quite insane
Visitor Q – er, probably avoid this one! Really gross.
Seven Samurai – may be the greatest film ever, if there is such a thing


Babel – brilliant film, but the Tokyo part is strange &
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitchen is a gentle, comforting novella about grief. How do we continue living in despair?
Mikage and Yuichi's lives are brought together by death. They are on the cusp of falling in love or living as strangers.
"I buried my face into his arm, gripping it fiercely. His warm sweater smelled of autumn leaves."
Charming, ephemeral and semi-absurd. It's an appealing story in which the darkness is belied by a soft quirkiness.

"I realised that the world did not exist for my benefit. It followed that the
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Two romantic tomes that search for goodness and love in human stuff like death and food.

Her writing flashes by, leaving dewy nectar dripping from your lips...
Nidhi Singh
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, most-loved
If there is a colour for the prose of Banana Yoshimoto, it is blue. Reading ‘Kitchen’ is like walking in the clear crisp air of a blue night in Tokyo. She works beautifully with surrealistic imagery, with artless simplicity. The images of the night, the houses in the streetlight, the colour of the sunset and the sky, the moonlight in the kitchen transpire again and again in the beautifully sparse writing until one breathes completely in the dreamlike quality of it. These images do not convey the ...more
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Brian by: Samadrita
Shelves: 2015_sow
My reading of this short work might have been snake-bit from the go. In the first I’m regrettably tinny eared when it comes to stories of romance and lost love. I also have no fundamental understanding of the Japanese language in its native form, other than its nuances successfully translated to English run the spectrum from Aflred Brinbaum to Jay Rubin – translators of Murakami’s works so very different that their output feels like two completely different authors. So perhaps it was the ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Japan has always comes across as something of a dichotomy to me; on the one hand it is deeply socially conservatives and shows a deep reverence of the past and its traditions, yet on the other hand it has innumerable quirks and eccentricities and is home to a vast array of oddballs. Oddballs would be a good way of surmising 'Kitchen' in a single word; Yoshimoto explores the lives of various oddballs, from ethereally beautiful transgender women to grown men wearing girls school uniforms in the ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Dream kitchens.
I will have countless ones, in my heart or in reality. Or in my travels. Alone, with a crowd of people, with one other person- in all the many places I will live. I know that there will be so many more."

It was late at night as I started to read "Kitchen" with a cup of coffee in my own Kitchen. The book contains "Kitchen" and Moonlight Shadow" and both stories handle about lost and grieve. I didn't want to drop the book without finishing it but was too sleepy to continue in one
Read the full review at Elgee Writes

Kitchen begins with Mikage Sakurai grieving the death of her grandmother, in their kitchen. Yuichi and his mother Eriko takes her in as she has no other family left. Mikage throws herself into cooking and food, which becomes part of her heart and dreams.

Eriko is a transvestite, who runs a gay night club and lives with her son Yuichi who studies at Uni. He was a man for a long time until his wife died and then he changes 'her face and her everything' with the
Apr 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"Kitchen" is a great little novella, and reading it is like having an old friend come to stay with you for a few days out of the blue. That one friend who had just the perfect quirky turn of phrase, the oddly poetic outlook on things like noodles and shoelace-tips. Yoshimoto's writing has matured since "Kitchen," but this story remains fresh and thoughtful, charming and simple and deep. My favorite part of the book, though, isn't the title novella but the one included after it, "Moonlight ...more
Ming Wei
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable book, well written, good structure. Wel edited stanards. Well worth a read.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, march-2019
I have read several of Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto's books to date, and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I was therefore very much looking forward to beginning her debut,Kitchen, which collects together two novellas - 'Kitchen' and 'Moonlight Shadow'. First published in Japan in 1987, where it won two of the most prestigious literary prizes in the country and remained on the bestseller list for more than a year, Kitchen was seamlessly translated into English by Megan Backus in 1993.

Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have observed that some of my favourite books have been those I've read in a single sitting. Yoshimoto's book, at 150 pages, is such a good length for a read of that sort.

It would be criminal for me to write too much for a book which itself is so minimal. And yet, it is such a powerful work. There is a very basic tendency of humans to be attracted to tragedy, to heartbreak, to grave sadness for such emotions often triumph over the most gleeful joys. For Yoshimoto, death, that most
Steven Godin
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: japan, fiction
Although Kitchen had lots of heart, I found it too sentimental and sweet for my liking. It felt at times like choking on candy floss.
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I've wanted to read basically ever since I joined GoodReads. I think that must've been in 2012? Quite a while ago anyway. I would try to stalk it at the library, but it was just always borrowed. And it cost a lot on Amazon too. Which is why come 2016, I still hadn't read one of the first books I ever put on my TBR.

So when I saw it at the book store two weeks ago, it wasn't a hard decision at all! Even if it was a lot thinner than I had imagined it to be.

A lot of people love this
Banana Yoshimoto always writes beautifully. Her words are picturesque, and without fail, every book of hers I read transports me into a different place and time. I've said this before, and I will again - her words, her books, are actually an experience. It is almost as if when you put down the book you are waking up from a sort of dream. That being said, I know that this was her debut novel in this country and has remained her most loved work. Thus, I was expecting a lot more from this. This is ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Any time I try to read Japanese novels I feel like I'm missing something. In Kitchen, as in the few other Japanese novels I've read, the prose seems flat and spare. I'm beginning to think it's not a question of translation and more a question of a different writing style. Mikage, a young woman, is left alone when her grandmother dies, following the deaths of her parents and grandfather. She ends up being sort of adopted by the Tanabe family, a young man her age and his transsexual (m to f) ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Kitchen (3 stars) is about losing a loved one and finding solace with something and someone. Something here is the kitchen including the food that you cook in there and someone is somebody like you who also lost a loved one and currently trying to move on with his life too. The plot is thin and the storytelling is simple. When this came out in 1988, Japan went "Bananamania" but you have to understand that Japan was also going crazy with Haruki Murakami's 1987 novel, Norwegian Wood and both of ...more
Viv JM
Kitchen is a rather wonderful novella about grief, loneliness, acceptance, love and friendship. I thought it was very moving and uplifting without being at all saccharine. The writing seems very simple but I think that is deceptive because there is a lot of depth here. This volume also contains a second shorter story, Moonlight Shadow, again about loss and grief and also uplifting and moving. A recommended read.
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Banana Yoshimoto (よしもと ばなな or 吉本 ばなな) is the pen name of Mahoko Yoshimoto (吉本 真秀子), a Japanese contemporary writer. She writes her name in hiragana. (See also 吉本芭娜娜 (Chinese).)

Along with having a famous father, poet Takaaki Yoshimoto, Banana's sister, Haruno Yoiko, is a well-known cartoonist in Japan. Growing up in a liberal family, she learned the value of independence from a young age.

“As I grow older, much older, I will experience many things, and I will hit rock bottom again and again. Again and again I will suffer; again and again I will get back on my feet. I will not be defeated. I won't let my spirit be destroyed.” 354 likes
“People aren't overcome by situations or outside forces. Defeat comes from within.” 257 likes
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