Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is the story of a young Japanese girl, Mikage, who lost her family and finds a new one with an old friend, Yuichi. When Mikage first lost her grandmother, she was launched into a depressive state. Yuichi helped reassure her and pick her back up. Throughout the novel, Yoshimoto develops a theme of the influence of a family by using Mikage to express struggles faced without one. Death is used to bring the characters to the realization that there can be new beginnings and that relationships are paramount in life. Individual’s need support from a family in order to live a happy life. The importance of kitchens in Mikage’s life is repeated throughout the novel which helps express Yoshimoto’s view on the importance of families. The motif of a kitchen is very significant besides the fact the title of the book is “Kitchen.” This is also how the novel starts, Mikage immediately expresses that kitchens are “the place I like best in this world” (pg 3). She also makes the claim that she loves all kitchens since all she needs is “a place where they make food” (pg 3). After her grandmother died it was ” the one place I Mikage could sleep” (pg 4) which suggests Mikage is the most comfortable within a kitchen. One interpretation shows that family should be where an individual feels most comfortable. Despite no longer having a family Mikage still finds comfort in a kitchen, this proposes that she finds the kitchen to be her “symbolic” family. Since she claims she wants to “breathe my her last in a kitchen,” (pg 4) this highlights the importance of kitchens in Mikage’s life and therefore highlights Yoshimoto’s importance for a family in the life of an individual. Mikage finds comfort from multiple kitchens within the novel. For starters, she spent most her days and nights in her grandmother’s kitchen because it is where she is comfortable. Then when the Tanabe family took her in, she found comfort in their kitchen and would spend time in there seeking comfort. Yoshimoto uses the kitchens to show that Mikage can find family without the blood relationships. This support that she receives from both her “symbolic” family and her newfound family, with Yuichi, is what ultimately allows Mikage to live a happy life. Death is also a general theme within the novel. But although it is a more radiant theme it doesn’t make the novel dark and disturbing. Death is ultimately what separates Mikage and Yuichi from their family members, but it also draws them together. When Mikage lost her grandmother she is thrown into a depressive state and starts to distance herself from the world. When Yuichi and his mother, Eriko, step in to take care of her, she falls out of her depression. Later on in the novel when Eriko dies, Yuichi is launched into a depressive state. Then Mikage, knowing the effect of lose, steps in and takes care of Yuichi and gives him a reason to continue on. By placing the characters in tragic circumstances, the novel shows how people cope with death.”Everyone we love is dying. Still, to cease living is unacceptable” (pg 82). This shows Mikage’s attitude towards life, even though she lost her entire family, she remains optimistic. Each character deals with a personal tragedy but death is what causes the characters to also realize they need one another. Mikage and Yuichi bond over the fact that death “follows them.” But like in most literature, the author uses death to represent a new beginning rather than the end. This is shown in the book with Mikage and Yuichi’s relationship. If Mikage’s grandmother never died, Yuichi most likely wouldn’t have reached out to Mikage. This death created a beginning for Yuichi and Mikage, and this is what solemnly makes the book. The end of her grandmother’s life creates a new relationship and beginning for Mikage. This message is also shown when Yuichi’s mother, Eriko, dies. When this happens, Mikage and Yuichi hadn’t seen each other in months. If Mikage hadn’t found out about Eriko’s death she would have continued on with her life and wouldn’t have reconnected with Yuichi. This death created a new beginning for Mikage and Yuichi and brings them to the realization that their feelings for each other are more than friends. Before Eriko died she explained to Mikage that grief and sadness are essential for a happy life, “But if a person hasn’t ever experienced true despair, she grows old never knowing how to evaluate where she is in life; never understanding what joy really is” (pg 41). By having both Mikage and Yuichi fall into a depressive state, this allows the author to use death as a new beginning and allow the characters to discover new paths rather than ending what was. With the new paths created, these characters learn that a family is needed in order to live a happy life.