Kitchen

by

Banana Yoshimoto

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Mikage’s Grandmother Character Analysis

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 motivate her exploration of bereavement in the first half of the story. Yoshimoto also shows, through Mikage’s grandmother’s loving bond with Yuichi, that family is not restricted to relatives.

Mikage’s Grandmother Quotes in Kitchen

The Kitchen quotes below are all either spoken by Mikage’s Grandmother or refer to Mikage’s Grandmother . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Death and Grief Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of Kitchen published in 2006.
Part 1: Kitchen Quotes

When he saw my grandmother’s picture on the altar, again his tears fell like rain. My first thought when I saw that was that my love for my own grandmother was nothing compared to this boy’s, whoever he was. He looked that sad.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Yuichi Tanabe, Mikage’s Grandmother
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

We would spend a little time together before bed, sometimes drinking coffee, sometimes green tea, eating cake and watching TV.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Mikage’s Grandmother
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

Little by little, light and air came into my heart.

Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

I loved the Tanabes’ sofa as much as I loved their kitchen. I came to crave sleeping on it […] I slept like a baby. There wasn’t anything more I wanted: I was happy.

Related Symbols: Kitchens
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

When I opened the door, I shuddered. It was like coming back to a stranger’s house. Cold and dark, not a sigh to be heard. Everything there, which should have been so familiar, seemed to be turning away from me […] there was only one thing to do—humming a tune, I began to scrub the refrigerator.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Mikage’s Grandmother
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

It was like being falling-down-drunk. My body was independent of me. Before I knew it, tears were flooding out.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Mikage’s Grandmother
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Looking up, I saw white steam rising, in the dark, out of a brightly lit window overhead. I listened. From inside came the sound of happy voices at work, soup boiling, knives and pots and pans clanging. It was a kitchen. I was puzzled, smiling about how I had just gone from the darkest despair to feeling wonderful. I stood up, smoothed down my skirt, and started back for the Tanabes’.

Related Symbols: Kitchens
Page Number: 34-35
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Full Moon Quotes

They had been taught, probably by caring parents, not to exceed the boundaries of their happiness regardless of what they were doing. […] What I mean by “their happiness” is living a life untouched as much as possible by the knowledge that we are really, all of us, alone. That’s not a bad thing. […] But—that one summer of bliss. In that kitchen […] Having known such joy, there was no going back.

Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Kitchen LitChart as a printable PDF.
Kitchen PDF

Mikage’s Grandmother Character Timeline in Kitchen

The timeline below shows where the character Mikage’s Grandmother appears in Kitchen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Kitchen
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
Mikage was raised by her grandmother, as her own mother and father died young. Her grandfather died when she was a... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...goes to Mikage’s university. Mikage doesn’t know Yuichi well, though it seems he knew her grandmother, as he came to the house in tears when Mikage’s grandmother died and helped Mikage... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...cleaning it out. It feels cold, dark, and unfamiliar, as if time stopped when her grandmother died. Deciding to get on with it, Mikage starts humming and scrubbing the fridge. (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...It’s Mikage’s ex-boyfriend, Sotaro, who’s called to check in as he just heard about Mikage’s grandmother. They converse easily and decide to meet. The wind blows clouds around outside the window,... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...contains the smells of her life there, her warm bed, or the sound of her grandmother’s slippers on the floor. Everything that was once there is gone.  (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
A grandmother on the bus cheerfully points out the blimp to soothe her sulking granddaughter. Mikage is... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...sleeps soundly after her cry. She dreams about scrubbing the yellow-green kitchen floor in her grandmother’s apartment. Yuichi’s there, also scrubbing, and they stop to drink tea in the empty, echoing... (full context)
Part 2: Full Moon
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...her body and dissipates into the dark night. Even though she lost her parents and grandmother, Mikage has never felt more alone than in this moment. She wants to die. She... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
Mikage looks up at the ceiling. When Mikage’s grandmother died, she thought things couldn’t get worse. Now Eriko’s dead, and things are worse. Mikage... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...tastes of anything to him and recalls how Mikage was the same when grieving her grandmother. Mikage hopes that the glow of light surrounding them in the warm coffee shop warms... (full context)