Today, we read and discussed “Dreaming of Kimchee” by Banana Yoshimoto. It was the second time for me to use this work for our discussion, but I learned some new things thanks to the wonderful participation of the students. As one of the participants once said, good stories can be read and interpreted in various ways and every time you read the story, you can find something new. That’s what happened today.
As the title of the story indicates, kimchee plays a significant role in the story. Many complex components of life including social pressure, norms, and the sense of guilt had clouded the mind of the protagonist. However, it was kimchee that cleared the opaqueness and ambiguity she suffered from. Kimchee is vivid, distinct, and bright in terms of its taste, smell and color. Kimchee can add vivacity and color to something mundane and monotonous. The protagonist and her husband get connected through the presence of Kimchee in their dreams. Dreams and food are integral parts of Yoshimoto’s distinctive world.
I finished my session with my usual question “what is your kimchee?”. The answers were “different cultures”; “experiences overseas”; “something that can make things colorful”; “possibility”. Superb answers!
For me, Asahi Super Dry is, as always.
In the next class, we’re going to read and discuss “The Peony Garden” by Kafu Nagai. Geisha and the Sumida River appear in the story. You can have a glimpse of what it was like to live in Tokyo in the Meiji Period. Nagai is a master of depiction of the old Tokyo.
I’m looking forward to the next discussion!