Kitchen

by

Banana Yoshimoto

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Yuichi Tanabe Character Analysis

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 her grandmother’s death. When Yuichi’s biological mother died when he was a baby, Yuichi’s biological father made the decision to become a woman, open a nightclub, and raise Yuichi as the boy’s mother. Yuichi has a calm and sweet life with Eriko and—despite his emotional obtuseness—forms a bond of friendship with Mikage that evolves into a romantic connection over the course of the story. Yuichi is torn apart with grief after Eriko dies, feeling that he lost both his mother and his father in one fell swoop. He eventually reaches out to Mikage for support. However, Yuichi fears appearing unmanly in front of Mikage so he runs away to begin a new life but Mikage tracks him down and feeds him a meal to lift his spirits. Mikage essentially saves Yuichi from being broken by grief, which enables him to embrace his feelings for Mikage.

Yuichi Tanabe Quotes in Kitchen

The Kitchen quotes below are all either spoken by Yuichi Tanabe or refer to Yuichi Tanabe. 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:

Usually, the first time I go to a house, face to face with people I barely know, I feel an immense loneliness.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Yuichi Tanabe, Eriko Tanabe
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

This was his mother? Dumbfounded I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Hair that rustled like silk to her shoulders; the deep sparkle of her long, narrow eyes; well-formed lips, a nose with a high, straight bridge—the whole of her face gave off a marvelous light that seemed to vibrate with life force.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Eriko Tanabe , Yuichi Tanabe
Related Symbols: Light
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Yes, but. Could you call someone who looked like that ‘Dad?’

Related Characters: Yuichi Tanabe (speaker), Eriko Tanabe , Mikage Sakurai
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

You’re a good kid, too.

Related Characters: Eriko Tanabe (speaker), Mikage Sakurai, Yuichi Tanabe
Page Number: 15
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:

It was like watching Bewitched.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Eriko Tanabe , Yuichi Tanabe
Page Number: 31
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

She, too, is a very precious child of mine.

Related Characters: Eriko Tanabe (speaker), Mikage Sakurai, Yuichi Tanabe
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

Nothing, nothing at all has any flavor for me know.

Related Characters: Yuichi Tanabe (speaker), Mikage Sakurai, Eriko Tanabe
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

But right now there’s this katsudon. Go ahead, eat it.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Yuichi Tanabe
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

Will you tear a telephone book in half for me?

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Yuichi Tanabe
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

The endless sea was shrouded in darkness. I could see the shadowy forms of gigantic, rugged crags against which the waves were crashing. While watching them I felt a strange, sweet sadness. In the biting air I told myself, there will be so much pleasure, so much suffering. With or without Yuichi. The beacon of a faraway lighthouse revolved. It turned its light toward me, then turned away, forming a pathway of light on the waves. Nodding to myself, my nose dripping, I returned to my room.

Related Characters: Mikage Sakurai (speaker), Yuichi Tanabe, Eriko Tanabe
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Kitchen LitChart as a printable PDF.
Kitchen PDF

Yuichi Tanabe Character Timeline in Kitchen

The timeline below shows where the character Yuichi Tanabe 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
One day, the doorbell rings. It’s Yuichi Tanabe, who goes to Mikage’s university. Mikage doesn’t know Yuichi well, though it seems he... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
Later, Mikage walks in to Yuichi’s place, noticing an enormous sofa in the middle of the kitchen. Yuichi makes tea while... (full context)
Gender Theme Icon
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Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...bursts in who is so beautiful that Mikage gasps. Her name is Eriko, and she’s Yuichi’s mother. Eriko has silky hair, long legs, and sparkling eyes, and she radiates with light... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
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Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
Yuichi explains that Eriko eloped with Yuichi’s biological mother—a strange-looking woman with short hair—when they were... (full context)
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Yuichi goes to bed. Mikage showers and settles into the “delectable” sofa, surrounded by plants, knowing... (full context)
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Eriko says that Mikage reminds her of Yuichi’s old dog, which is probably why Yuichi feels close to Mikage. Eriko thinks Yuichi is... (full context)
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...slips into an easy rhythm of working at her part-time job, cooking for Eriko and Yuichi, watching TV, and sleeping on the enormous sofa. She sleeps soundly each night, and wants... (full context)
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...company. Sotaro says that that everyone in school is talking about Mikage moving in with Yuichi, because Yuichi’s girlfriend slapped him in the cafeteria. Mikage is so surprised that she spills... (full context)
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Mikage and Sotaro walk home through the park. Mikage points out Yuichi’s apartment and Sotaro teases Mikage about not having a plan for getting her own apartment.... (full context)
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That evening, Yuichi walks in carrying a new word processor and suggests Mikage send out change-of-address cards. Mikage... (full context)
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...Eriko bursts in with a new juicer. Mikage chuckles at the Tanabes’ frequent electronics purchases. Yuichi jokes that he doesn’t think a juicer will do much for Eriko’s skin at her... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...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 space. Still... (full context)
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...in her mind. In the chilled silence she hears the stars moving across the sky. Yuichi comes up behind her, mumbling sleepily that he’s hungry and wants some ramen. As they... (full context)
Part 2: Full Moon
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...barbell. Mikage, who had already moved out, doesn’t hear the news until months later when Yuichi finally calls to tell her. He couldn’t bring himself to do it sooner. The first... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...She knows she won’t though, and will live in sadness forever, but she focuses on Yuichi and keeps walking. (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
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Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
Mikage rings Yuichi’s doorbell, feeling hopeless. When he answers the door, she can’t help but smile. She’s genuinely... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
Mikage looks Yuichi deep in the eyes and finds herself saying that for some reason the two of... (full context)
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Yuichi hands Eriko’s will to Mikage, and goes to bed. It’s a cheerful letter joking about... (full context)
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...misses Eriko so much that she feels she’ll go mad. She wonders if she woke Yuichi up with her crying, or if he woke up from a bad dream. Mikage reflects... (full context)
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Mikage and Yuichi sleep into the afternoon. As they sit next to each other watching TV, Mikage has... (full context)
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Over the summer, Mikage had learned to cook. Mikage cooked so much that Eriko and Yuichi had thought Mikage had gone crazy. The more she cooked, the more she tempered her... (full context)
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Yuichi arrives with the car full of shopping bags and cajoles Mikage into helping him carry... (full context)
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...needs to approach it gently and slowly. For now, she thinks just of her and Yuichi and the present moment, and she feels safe. They eat over wine, and Mikage notices... (full context)
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Yuichi asks Mikage to move back in. Mikage asks if Yuichi means as a lover or... (full context)
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...be a girl. Mikage gets dressed and slips out to go to work without waking Yuichi, agonizing about whether she should come back and stay the night. Luckily, a well-timed distraction... (full context)
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Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...girl named Okuno walks in asking for Mikage. Okuno tells Mikage to stay out of Yuichi’s life, because their half-relationship is making him stuck in his life. Mikage is deeply hurt... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
That evening, Mikage is cooking curry at Yuichi’s when he walks in. Somehow, she can’t meet his eyes. Mikage tells Yuichi she’s leaving... (full context)
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Yuichi opens the door for Mikage and they joke about how Eriko insisted on having the... (full context)
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...watering the plants, looking “thrillingly beautiful” in the light. She talked about the time when Yuichi’s biological mother was dying of cancer and wanted a plant to connect her with light... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
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...talk.  They meet for ramen and Chika explains, in her colorful and dramatic way, that Yuichi came in last night in despair and looked miserable when Chika suggested he find Mikage.... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...but guilty about a break from the complicated highs and lows of her relationship with Yuichi and her grief about Eriko, who was the “dazzling sun” whose light illuminated them both.... (full context)
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Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...and orders a hearty meal of fried pork in broth. Spotting a telephone, Mikage calls Yuichi, who chuckles when he realizes Chika’s meddling. Yuichi’s voice feels faraway, and Mikage misses him... (full context)
Death and Grief Theme Icon
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Mikage asks Yuichi when he’ll be back, and he lies, saying soon. Mikage knows he will try to... (full context)
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...she gets in, deciding to go with it, and speeds far away to Isehara, where Yuichi is staying. The taxi driver jokes that it must be a matter of love, and... (full context)
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Joy and Suffering Theme Icon
...Somehow, she just knows that the window in the corner reflecting the green light is Yuichi’s. Mikage climbs up onto the ledge, and keeps climbing towards the window, until she finds... (full context)
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...up at the moon. She decides the moon is beautiful, gets up, and knocks on Yuichi’s window.   (full context)
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Yuichi is stunned as he opens the window, and rubs his eyes. Mikage says she came... (full context)
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Mikage’s chest is heavy in the “tomblike” atmosphere, and she wants to cry. Suddenly Yuichi notices Mikage’s bleeding arm and but she tells him not to worry and he starts... (full context)
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Yuichi and Mikage joke around and the mood feels easier. Mikage tells Yuichi that she doesn’t... (full context)
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...herself about how much pain and joy there will be to come, with or without Yuichi. When Mikage gets back to her room, Yuichi calls, sounding happy. They joke about food.... (full context)