Reacquiring my taste for manga with “Kinou, Nani Tabeta?”

Fumi Yoshinaga
March 25, 2014
Vertical, Inc., 200 Pages
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What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a story of a gay couple in their forties, living together in an apartment in Tokyo. Shiro is a lawyer, and his boyfriend Kenji works as a hairstylist.

Shiro has a talent and love for cooking, and delicately creates meals for Kenji and him to share. As Shiro cooks, the steps that he takes to make the recipe are described in great detail through his thoughts.

The charm of the story is that it is essentially about the thought, love and care that it takes to make a well-prepared and delicious meal, and the gay narrative of the main characters is as well balanced and tasteful as the recipes described.

The author obviously has a deep understanding of the issues that gay men face in Japan. Shiro and Kenji cannot get legally married in Japan but are living together. Shiro meticulously keeps a grocery budget of about $250 a month, because in their old age, they won’t have any grandchildren to support them, so it’s important for them to save as much money as possible. Due to his profession, Shiro is closeted at work, and the book touches upon his coworkers speculating things like why he is not married. Kenji, on the other hand is out, but has to keep quiet about their relationship because of Shiro’s situation. In one chapter, the story covers things like gay men “playing straight” by marrying women, creating a family, and then having secret gay affairs on the side. In others, it touches upon the ignorance towards homosexuality, like someone saying, “stop flattering him, he’ll fall in love with you” or talk about “turning gay”. Despite and informative content, it all still manages to be lighthearted and even laugh-out-loud funny, as there’s a lot of parts that really hit home. Gay men reading this will probably see a little bit of themselves in both Shiro and Kenji.

All in all, it features a realistic slice-of-life story about gay men as well as a matter-of-fact commentary on the cultural issues that gay men have to deal with in Japan. This isn’t a manga with drama, heavily romanticized gay relationships, or raunchy scenes with censored private parts. It’s simply a story about the pleasure of sharing a home-cooked meal with someone whom you love.

As an added bonus for you gourmands out there, the book includes the recipes for the meals at the end of each chapter, meaning this manga doubles as a cookbook! Granted you can get your hands on some of the Japanese ingredients, there are some really spectacular recipes. Because I’m familiar with washoku (Japanese cuisine) ingredients, I often find my mouth watering while Shiro is cooking his meals and explaining the steps. I’m pretty decent in the kitchen, so I’m thinking of giving some of these recipes a try!

Check out What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 1 on Amazon.

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5 Comments

  1. I really like this series too–it’s so different from a lot of the typical manga storylines out there. And the food! It all sounds so delicious. I definitely want to try some of the recipes.

  2. Oh wow, I’m pretty interested in this manga. I read quite of bit of them myself and haven’t yet started something new in a while. Not to mention the recipes and steps in the book….haha I’m also on the verge of making japanese cuisine myself. How have your attempts been?

    • I can make some pretty good Japanese food (at least Taku never has complained). And he likes my Puerto Rican cooking too ^^. But since moving into a smaller apartment a year ago my kitchen became so tiny I’ve been cooking simpler things, or using shortcuts like seasoning packs and such.

      I’ve read a little bit of the manga Otouto no Otto (My Little Brothers Husband) recently and I really enjoyed what I read. Have you checked that one out?

      • Yess! I have read Otouto no Otto. I believe I’m currently up to date. The story is just so compelling and feeling invoking. I love everything about it. =D But nice to hear that you’re still getting in exp despite your change in kitchen size. I’ve also heard that the counters and such are kind of lower in height. I’m 6’2 and a lil concerned hehe.

        • Especially in older apartments counters and sinks can be quite low. I’m short so it doesn’t make much of a difference though ^^

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