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Banana Yoshimoto

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Banana Yoshimoto
Native name
吉本 ばなな
BornMahoko Yoshimoto
(1964-07-24) July 24, 1964 (age 59)
Tokyo, Japan
Official website Edit this at Wikidata

Banana Yoshimoto (吉本 ばなな, Yoshimoto Banana, born 24 July 1964[1]) is the pen name of Japanese writer Mahoko Yoshimoto (吉本 真秀子, Yoshimoto Mahoko). From 2002 to 2015, she wrote her name in hiragana (よしもと ばなな).



Yoshimoto was born in Tokyo on July 24, 1964, and grew up in a progressive family. Her father was the poet and critic Takaaki Yoshimoto, and her sister, Haruno Yoiko [ja], is a well-known cartoonist in Japan.

Yoshimoto graduated from Nihon University's College of Art with a major in literature. While there, she adopted the pseudonym "Banana", after her love of banana flowers, a name she recognizes as both "cute" and "purposefully androgynous."[2]

Yoshimoto keeps her personal life guarded and reveals little about her certified rolfing practitioner husband, Hiroyoshi Tahata, or son (born in 2003). Each day she takes half an hour to write at her computer, and she says, "I tend to feel guilty because I write these stories almost for fun."[citation needed] Between 2008 and 2010, she maintained an online journal for English-speaking fans.[3]

Writing career


Yoshimoto began her writing career while working as a waitress at a golf club restaurant in 1987.

Her debut work, Kitchen (1988), had over 60 printings in Japan alone. There have been two film adaptations: a Japanese TV movie[4] and a more widely released version titled Wo ai chu fang, produced in Hong Kong by Ho Yim in 1997.[5]

In November 1987, Yoshimoto won the 6th Kaien Newcomer Writers Prize for Kitchen; in 1988, the novel was nominated for the Mishima Yukio Prize, and in 1989, it received the 39th Minister of Education's Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists.[6] In 1988 (January), she also won the 16th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature, for the novella Moonlight Shadow, which is included in most editions of Kitchen.

Another one of her novels, Goodbye Tsugumi (1989), received mixed reviews but was made into a 1990 movie directed by Jun Ichikawa.[7]



Her works include twelve novels and seven collections of essays (including Pineapple Pudding and Song From Banana) which have together sold over six million copies worldwide.[8] Her themes include love and friendship, the power of home and family, and the effect of loss on the human spirit.

In 1998, she wrote the foreword to the Italian edition of the book Ryuichi Sakamoto. Conversazioni by musicologist Massimo Milano.

In 2013, Yoshimoto wrote the serialized novel, Shall We Love? (僕たち、恋愛しようか?), for the women's magazine Anan, with singer-actor Lee Seung-gi as the central character. The romance novel was the first of her works to feature a Korean singer as the central character.[9][10]

Writing style


Yoshimoto says that her two main themes are "the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan" and "the way in which terrible experiences shape a person's life".[11]

Her works describe the problems faced by youth, urban existentialism, and teenagers trapped between imagination and reality. Her works are targeted not only to the young and rebellious, but also to grown-ups who are still young at heart. Yoshimoto's characters, settings, and titles have a modern and American approach, but the core is Japanese. She addresses readers in a personal and friendly way, with warmth and outright innocence, writing about the simple things such as the squeaking of wooden floors or the pleasant smell of food. Food and dreams are recurring themes in her work which are often associated with memories and emotions. Yoshimoto admits that most of her artistic inspiration derives from her own dreams and that she'd like to always be sleeping and living a life full of dreams.[12]

She named American author Stephen King as one of her first major influences and drew inspiration from his non-horror stories. As her writing progressed, she was further influenced by Truman Capote and Isaac Bashevis Singer.[citation needed] Also manga artist Yumiko Ōshima was an inspiration.[13]



In 1987, Yoshimoto won the Kaien Newcomer Writers Prize, for Kitchen. In 1988, she was awarded the 16th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature, for Moonlight Shadow. The following year, she earned two more accolades: the 39th Minister of Education's Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists (for the fiscal year of 1988), for Kitchen and Utakata/Sanctuary, and the 2nd Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, for Goodbye Tsugumi. In 1995, she won the 5th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Amrita, her first full-length novel. And in 2000, she received the 10th Bunkamura Deux Magots Literary Prize, for Furin to Nambei, a collection of stories set in South America.

Outside Japan, she has been awarded prizes in Italy: the Scanno Literary Prize in 1993, the Fendissime Literary Prize in 1996, the Literary Prize Maschera d'Argento in 1999, and the Capri Award in 2011.[14]

The Lake was longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize.



Titles between parentheses are rough translations if the novel has not been translated.

Title Publish date
Japanese Japanese English
Moonlight Shadow ムーンライト・シャドウ 1986 1993 (included in most editions of Kitchen)
Kitchen キッチン 1988 1993
(Transient/Sanctuary) うたかた/サンクチュアリ 1988
The Premonition 哀しい予感 1988 2023
Goodbye Tsugumi TUGUMI 1989 2002
Asleep 白河夜船 1989 2000
N.P N・P 1990 1994
Lizard とかげ 1993 1995
Amrita アムリタ 1994 1997
(Marika's lengthy night, dreamlog in Bali) マリカの永い夜・バリ夢日記 1994
(Hachiko's last lover) ハチ公の最後の恋人 1994
Sly SLY 1996
(Honeymoon) ハネムーン 1997
Hardboiled & Hard Luck ハードボイルド/ハードラック 1999 2005
(Occult) Collection of essays selected by the author 1 オカルト 2000
(Love) Collection of essays selected by the author 2 ラブ 2000
(Death) Collection of essays selected by the author 3 デス 2001
(Life) Collection of essays selected by the author 4 ライフ 2001
(The body knows everything) 体は全部知っている 2000
Furin to Nanbei (Adultery and South America) 不倫と南米 2000
Daisy's Life ひな菊の人生 2000
(Kingdoms, first instalment, Andromeda Heights) 王国 その1 アンドロメダ・ハイツ 2002
(Rainbow) 2002
Argentine Hag (with drawings and pictures by Yoshitomo Nara) アルゼンチンババア 2002 2002 Also published in English by RockinOn
(Cloak of feathers) ハゴロモ 2003
Dead-End Memories [15][16][17] デッドエンドの思い出 2003 2022
(Don't worry, be happy) なんくるない 2004
(High and dry (first love)) High and dry (はつ恋) 2004
(Lid of the sea) 海のふた 2004
(Kingdoms, second instalment, the shadow of lost things, and ensuing magic) 王国 その2 痛み、失われたものの影、そして魔法 2004
(Kingdoms, third instalment, the secret flower garden) 王国 その3 ひみつの花園 2005
The Lake みずうみ 2005 2010
(Dolphin or Are you there?) イルカ 2006
(Salamander or The small shadow) ひとかげ 2006
(Chie and I) チエちゃんと私 2007
(Hawaii dreaming) まぼろしハワイ 2007
(South point) サウスポイント 2008
(About her or About my girlfriend) 彼女について 2008
Moshi-Moshi: A Novel もしもし下北沢 2010 2016
(The acorn sisters) どんぐり姉妹 2010
(Another world, Kingdoms, fourth instalment) アナザー・ワールド 王国 その4 2010
(Sizzle sizzle) ジュージュー 2010
(Sweet hereafter) スウィート・ヒアアフター 2011
(A night with Saki and friends) さきちゃんたちの夜 2013
(Hostess bar stumble) スナックちどり 2013
(Shall We Love?) 僕たち、恋愛しようか? 2013
(Take an afternoon nap on a bed of flowers) 花のベッドでひるねして 2013
(Birds) 鳥たち 2014
(Circus night) サーカスナイト 2015
(Funafuna Funabashi) ふなふな船橋 2015


  1. ^ "Banana Yoshimoto". Faber & Faber. Archived from the original on 2015-12-23. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  2. ^ "Banana Yoshimoto". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  3. ^ Yoshimoto, Banana. "My Journal". Archived from the original on 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  4. ^ Morita, Yoshimitsu (1989-10-29), Kitchen (Drama, Romance), Wako International, retrieved 2021-11-25
  5. ^ Yim, Ho (Director) (1997). Kitchen. IMDb.
  6. ^ "Banana Yoshimoto". Counterpoint Press. 3 May 2016. Archived from the original on August 19, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  7. ^ Ichikawa, Jun (Director) (1990). Tsugumi. IMDb. Archived from the original on 2019-12-13. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  8. ^ Copeland, Rebecca L. (2006). Woman Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women's Writing. University of Hawaii Press. p. 167. ISBN 0-8248-2958-1. Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  9. ^ Lee, KyungNam (April 1, 2013). "Lee Seung Gi to Appear as Lead in New Yoshimoto Banana Novel". mwave. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  10. ^ Lent, Jesse (April 2, 2013). "Lee Seung Gi To Appear As Hero In Upcoming Banana Yoshimoto Romance Novel 'Shall We Love' For Women's Magazine Anan". kpopstarz.com. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "Banana Yoshimoto and the young". March 26, 2012. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  12. ^ Treat, John Whittier (Summer 1993). "Yoshimoto Banana Writes Home: Shojo Culture and the Nostalgic Subject". Journal of Japanese Studies. 19 (2): 353–387. doi:10.2307/132644. JSTOR 132644.
  13. ^ Schodt, Frederik L. (2011). Dreamland Japan : writings on modern manga. Berkeley, California. p. 292. ISBN 978-1-933330-95-2. OCLC 731210677.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. ^ "Banana Yoshimoto wins Italian literary prize". Melville House. 26 May 2011. Archived from the original on 24 November 2022. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Review: 'Dead-End Memories,' by Banana Yoshimoto". The New York Times. 2022-07-30.
  16. ^ ""Dead-End Memories" by Banana Yoshimoto". Asian Review of Books. 2022-08-10. Retrieved 2023-08-15.
  17. ^ Leow, Florentyna (2022-07-17). "Banana Yoshimoto's 'Dead-End Memories' is the literary equivalent of a lo-fi playlist". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2023-08-15.