Both Naoe and Kieko resent each other because Naoe is unable to leave behind her Japanese traditions and culture, where as Keiko refuses to remain trapped in a state of confusion between two cultures. Consequently, Keiko actively works to diminish this polarity that exists between her Japanese “self” and Canadian “self” by refuting one of her “selves.” Keiko does this by avoiding Japanese food, the Japanese language, and Naoe. Keiko’s disdain for traditional Japanese food does not help close the distance between her and Naoe, specifically because Naoe’s fixation and obsession with Japanese food is evident throughout Chorus of Mushrooms. For example, the scenes in which Naoe is relishing food that her brother Shige, and his wife have sent her, she is the happiest:
…a bottle wrapped in plastic and paper and black character on the label. The grandmother smacked her lips, Sake! and the girl looked up, saw the old woman’s eager mouth, and smiled because she could taste how sweet the sake was from her grandmother’s face. (Goto 16)
Japanese food is the only form of solace for Naoe in Canada, and this is portrayed by her enthusiasm for the packages of food Shige sends her. When Naoe chews dried squid sent to her from Japan, she says that it gives her energy, and the more she chews, the tastier it is for her (Goto 14). Similarly, in another instance, Naoe is secretly eating osenbei, crisp rice crackers soaked in soy sauce, which her granddaughter, Murasaki, has sneaked into Naoe’s room (Goto 15). Thus, food is not only a means to satisfy Naoe’s hunger, but there are further connotations associated with it. In scholar Heather Latimer’s view, eating signifies a form of psychological transformation for Naoe which goes beyond “the consumptio...
... middle of paper ...
...g one aspect of their being (their Japanese self), does not mean that Naoe, Murasaki, and Keiko are giving up their Canadian identity. Instead, they have managed to reach an equilibrium between the two cultures, forming a new way of being for themselves.
In Chorus of Mushrooms food works as both an isolating and binding factor for Naoe, Keiko and Murasaki. While the three women struggle with an identity crisis, they realize that eating Japanese food gives their life a sense of purpose and meaning. Sharing and Consuming traditional Japanese dishes allows the women to express their multicultural identity in a more authentic way. Naoe, Keiko and Murasaki prove that despite all odds, it is possible to achieve a sense of balance between their Japanese and Canadian culture, and it conceivable to create an alternative identity for themselves, a hybrid cultural identity.
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