Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Japanese
Translated from: Italian
Authors: Yoshimoto, Banana
Translated by: Danieliūtė-Lapinskienė, Aušra
ISBN: 9986-02-181-2
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 1996
Publisher: Alma Littera

This is a story about a girl and a boy who meet under strange circumstances. They are brought together by the loved ones’ death. In the face of death timid, warm and pure love is born. The main character in the book, Mikage Sakurai, has difficulties coping with her beloved grandmother, the last of the relatives, death. In this challenging period of her life as if out of nowhere Juichi appears who helps her realise the loss. A strange friendship slowly occurs between two of them. Everything is diversified by a very colorful person – Juichi’s mother, who is actually his transvestite father. The idyllic life at the trio’s home, where the action is boiling in the kitchen, is disturbed by another unexpected death.

Banana’s debut novel „Kitchen“ was a great success. It became a bestseller in Japan and there were released more than six million copies. According to the novel there were created even two screenings: Japanese television series and Hong Kong director Yim Ho version. The novel also won many awards: Kaien Making Debut Writers Bonus, Umitsubame first novel premium, as well as Izumi Kyoko Bonus Prize for Literature. „Kitchen“ – most famous Banana Yoshimoto’s novel and one of the most important books in Japanese literary life in the last decades.

The book is actually very interesting and easy to read. There is no need to be a great fan or expert of Japanese culture, everything is put very simply. Although we can find a lot of talks about death in the “Kitchen”, it does not cause negative emotions and really do not make the reader cry. Death is like the inevitable part of life, though it is difficult to accept and come to terms with it, but there is no other way. Maybe the main character’s Mikage experience would help some readers while facing a death of beloved one’s. The book also reveals that even after a severe shock it is possible to move on, to discover the joy of life and how important it is to keep believing.

Banana Yoshimoto (real name is Mahoko Yoshimoto) is a modern Japanese writer, probably unknown to majority of Lithuanians. Born on 24 July 1964 in Tokyo. Her nickname is always signed by the hiragana. Mahoko graduated from the University of the Japanese literature. While studying at the university she chose a pseudonym Banana only because she was fascinated by the red banana’s blossoms. On a daily basis she spends at least half an hour writing her works with the computer. On the Internet there is a frequently updated page for Mahoko’s English-speaking fans. Banana began to write while working as a waitress at the Golf Club. She says that Stephen King’s novels were among the first works that made a huge impact on her. She herself believes that the two main themes of her creation is the „exhaustion of young people in modern Japan“ and „how terrible experiences leave a mark in human life“.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU