By: Banana Yoshimoto
Growing up is tough; especially when you are alone and young. It forces you to fend for yourself against the world. Instead of playing with your friends, you spend your time figuring out where your next meal is coming from. Which is a sad and scary truth; few stop to think of these poor souls that get such an unfortunate fate. In Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, the character Mikage undergoes many of changes, but one thing throughout this book that does not change is her love of kitchens. Her parents passed away when she was young and her grandmother raised her. When her grandmother also passed away, she became depressed, listless, and orphaned. In the beginning of the book she is lonely, since none of her blood relatives are still alive. After she moves in with the Tanabe's, however, she finds the courage to face life again. She has a strong bond with kitchens; they seem to give her a calming feeling and help to ease her loneliness. Kitchens serve as a comfort for her. Throughout the course of this novel Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto depicts Mikage as a person of great morals, who loves kitchens, and is incredibly strong-willed. In this novel Mikage appears to be an individualist who keeps her morals intact; her grandparents brought her up to be an accepting, gracious person. Mikage is a person of great temperance, although she is a little touchy about her relationship with Yoichi. She is also courageous for a person who lost her entire family, and, because she doesn't want to get hurt again, she distanced herself from other people. “When was it I realized that, on this truly dark and solitary path we all walk, the only way we can light is our own?” (Yoshimoto, pg. 21). Her moral stature is apparent when Yoichi tells her that Eriko is a transgender, and instead of getting upset about it, she accepted it because she feels she can trust them.
Her dominant traits are her love of cooking and her love of kitchens. These