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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  53,060 ratings  ·  4,568 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, t ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 17th 2006 by Grove Press (first published January 30th 1988)
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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)
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 diffe…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)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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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 c
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
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
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
Important Note: When I read this in 2015, I took GR's publication date of 2001 at face value. However, it was first published in Japanese in 1988. Had I realised it was so long ago, I would have read it as a historical piece and not been distracted and annoyed by the portrayal of trans characters which was probably daringly progressive back then. Nevertheless, this review stands as my experience of reading the book, though I'm uprating to 2*.

"People aren't overcome by situations or outside forc
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 ho
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 re
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Truly happy memories always live on, shining. Over time, one by one, they come back to life.

Memory winds its way down the back alleys of our lives casting shadow plays in the corridors like moonlight. A tragedy in life is that we don’t always appreciate what we had until we look back on it, seeing diamonds in the rough in even our darkest days. While romancing hard times is problematic, realizing the beauty that hid even then is a wonderful reflection. Personally, my biggest moments of growth
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.

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 & unc
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 i
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 hav

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
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, defianc ...more
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
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
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...
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
The book consists of a novella (Kitchen) and a short story (Moonlight Shadow). There is a focus on loss and grief and its effects and the ensuing loneliness:
“Usually, the first time I go to a house, face to face with people I barely know, I feel an immense loneliness. I saw myself reflected in the glass of the large terrace window while black gloom spread over the rain-hounded night panorama. I was tied by blood to no creature in this world. I could go anywhere, do anything. It was dizzying. Sud
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 Alfred 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 transla ...more
Ankit Garg
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am fascinated with books set in Japan, and thus me reading Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto was a no-brainer. The novella tells the story of an orphan girl Mikage who was raised by her grandmother. After the granny dies, the protagonist lives with her friend and his mother, who was his father before gender change. The story revolves around both these people then helping each other to deal with their loss and grief.

As the title goes, Mikage finds solace and peace in cooking. Cooking a perfect full-f
I picked up this book not knowing much about it, just curious to read something by Yoshimoto, who won several Japanese prizes.
By the title, i was like ohhh the kitchen. It must be a book about how families are happy in this magical place where good food unites people. But boyyyy i was wrong!!!!
The book contiens 2 tales, and for sure the second one is my favorite. It is all about same serious subjects that touched me profoundly (grief, loneliness...)
A phenomenal written book despite being a tra
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Sadly, I had to DNF this short book!
I just couldn't feel the writing, couldn't connect with the characters, couldn't feel anything for whatever that's going on in the story. The writing is simple and is supposed to reach each nook and corner of my heart considering the situation the characters were in. But seriously I simply just couldn't bear the torture of reading something I wasn't enjoying. Left the book at 73rd page out of 152.
Better start another book.
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 st ...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.
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 go
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
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a very melancholic book that describes pain, loss and mourning so beautifully and acutely, it’s truly a visceral experience. You end up caring deeply for Mikage, orphaned early then dealing with her Grandmother’s death, she feels completely lost and unanchored without a sense of belonging to any living being, her sense of despair and loneliness becoming all consuming. After her Grandmothers funeral she meets a young man Yuichi who invites her into his home and they share a unique bond of ...more
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 Shadow ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: march-2019, book-club
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.

Daniel Clausen
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2020
The book is beautiful, simple, and honest. Melancholy is a good word. Subtle is another. I want to say that it is the work of a young writer. I think that a young writer’s first works should not be too ambitious. They should come from lived details and honest emotions. They shouldn’t overreach.

The first two stories are connected to one another. The last one is not. That was a disappointment. If the last story had been connected to the first two, the book would essentially be a novel. I think th
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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.

She gradua

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