Kitchen Notes

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“Kitchen” Notes
Historical Context- Tokyo in the 1980’s:
* Population: over 8 million people
* One of the most expensive cities in the world to live
* Crowded, with cramped living conditions
* Industrial economy with reliance upon exportation of automobiles and electronics to the West Characters:
* Mikage Sakurai- protagonist and narrator
* Yuichi Tanabe- young man who befriends Mikage (love interest) * Sensei- cooking teacher
* Sotaro- Mikage’s old boyfriend
* Eriko- Yuichi’s mother/father (referred to as mother) * Okuno- Yuichi’s girlfriend at school
* Chika- transsexual “girl” at Eriko’s club
* Kuri- works with Mikage and Nori at the cooking school
* Nori- “proper young lady” at the cooking school
Cultural changes:
* In Japan, Yoshimoto’s generation is called the shinjinrui, a generation that has grown up in a wealthy, technological society exposed to American values. After World War II, western ideas and a free market changed a more traditional-minded Japan. * Before World War II women were socially and economically subordinate to men and marriages were arranged by families. * At the turn of the last century, women did not have the right to ask for a divorce. By the mid-1980’s more women filed for divorce than men in Japan. * The novel as an art form is new (imported from Europe in the late 1800’s) * Tanizaki Junichiro wrote in 1932 that European literature liberated the concept of love for the Japanese. The idea of marriage changed from an economic arrangement to a romantic possibility between two people. Kitchens:

* A few generations ago, food preparation was considered a lower class occupation. * By the mid-1980’s, it had become a respectful career as well as an art form. * The kitchen has become a showcase of consumer wealth

Gender role changes:
* A popular theater company for Japanese girls is the Takaruzuka, in which an all-female cast acts out roles of both men and women...
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