In Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, kitchens symbolize the natural, repetitious rhythms of life, which is often what pulls the protagonist, Mikage Sakurai, out of a moment where she feels overwhelmed by the presence of death in her life and feels she might break. For example, when Mikage is overcome with grief after Eriko Tanabe dies, she starts cleaning Eriko’s kitchen. The more she scrubs, the better she feels. Eventually, Mikage feels as if she is turning a corner and knows she will get through her pain. Kitchens are active spaces, full of tasks that must be repeated over and over again, such as cleaning, chopping, scrubbing, boiling, and so on. For Yoshimoto, the actions that are repeated endlessly in kitchens are the stuff of life itself: the cycle of living that goes on day after day. Once a person reconnects with this rhythm, they are able to push past the suffering that throttles them and keep going.
Kitchens Quotes in Kitchen
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.
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’.
For an instant I had a vision of Eriko’s smiling face, and my heart turned over. I felt an urge to get moving. It looked to me like the kitchen had not been used in quite a while. It was somewhat dirty and dark. I began to clean. I scrubbed the sink with scouring powder, wiped off the burners, washed the dishes, sharpened the knives. I washed and bleached all the dish towels and while watching them go round and round in the dryer I realized that I had become calmer.