Banana Yoshimoto

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Mikage Sakurai

The protagonist and narrator of Kitchen, whose mother and father died when she was very young. Mikage was raised by her grandmother, who died a few days before the story begins. The story… read analysis of Mikage Sakurai

Yuichi Tanabe

Eriko’s son and Mikage’s love interest in Kitchen. He developed a deep bond with Mikage’s grandmother when she was alive, which prompts him to offer Mikage a place to stay while she grieves… read analysis of Yuichi Tanabe

Eriko Tanabe

The central maternal figure in Kitchen. Eriko is an empowered transgender woman who runs a nightclub, raises her son Yuichi, and takes on a motherly role with Mikage after Mikage’s grandmother dies. Yoshimoto… read analysis of Eriko Tanabe

Mikage’s Grandmother

Mikage’s only living relative, who dies a few days before the story begins. Mikage’s mother and father died when Mikage was a baby, so Mikage’s grandmother raised her. Yoshimoto leverages Mikage’s grandmother’s death to… read analysis of Mikage’s Grandmother

Yuichi’s Biological Mother

Eriko’s late wife, who was Eriko’s foster sister. Yuichi’s biological mother ran off with Eriko when they were teenagers, and she gave birth to Yuichi soon after. Yuichi’s biological mother died of cancer… read analysis of Yuichi’s Biological Mother
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Minor Characters
Mikage’s pragmatic ex-boyfriend. Mikage has an easy friendship with Sotaro, though she does not connect with him as well as she does with Yuichi because Sotaro has not experienced much suffering in his life.
Eriko’s dramatic colleague who runs Eriko’s club after Eriko dies.
A girl who becomes involved with Yuichi after Eriko dies. She is threatened by Yuichi’s bond with Mikage.
Yuichi’s Girlfriend
A girl who is involved with Yuichi early on in the story. She slaps Yuichi in the cafeteria when she hears that Mikage has moved in with Eriko and Yuichi.
Eriko’s Stalker / Eriko’s Murderer
A man who becomes obsessed with Eriko and murders her because she is transgender.
Mikage’s colleague at the cooking school.
Mikage’s colleague at the cooking school.
Mikage’s Boss / Cooking Teacher
Mikage’s employer at the cooking school.
Mikage’s Mother
Mikage’s biological mother, who died when Mikage was a baby.
Mikage’s Father
Mikage’s biological father, who died when Mikage was a baby.
The Landlord
Mikage’s grandmother’s landlord.
Taxi driver
A man who drives Mikage to Isehara, where she is going to see Yuichi.