Yoshimoto, Banana

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novella

Annotated by:
Wear, Delese
  • Date of entry: Jul-28-1997
  • Last revised: Jan-08-2007


This is the wonderfully strange story of Mikage Sakurai, a young woman who has just lost her grandmother, her last living relative, and serendipitously finds a new "family" when Yuichi Tanabe and his mother Eriko invite her to live with them. The story weaves around Mikage's growing sense of safety and attachment to this unusual family; Yuichi's own coming of age issues as a young man; and Eriko's unconventional life as a nightclub owner . . . and the fact that she was formerly Yuichi's father.


This is a marvelous example of how families take many forms, that acts of kindness along with a disregard for convention can create spaces of love and acceptance regardless of who makes up the unit we call family. Eriko's former life as Yuichi's father (when married to Yuichi's now deceased mother) is given matter-of-fact treatment early in the story, as is her change from man to woman ("Because she hates to do things halfway, she had everything done, from her face to her whatever, and with the money she had left over she bought that nightclub. She raised me a woman alone, as it were."). Instead, the novella focuses on relationships that transcend gender and traditional family ties.


Translated from the Japanese by Megan Backus. First published in 1988, Kitchen is now in its 57th printing in Japan.



Place Published

New York



Page Count