Everyone has some sort of issue with their parents. Whether it be holding onto resentment from a divorce or the way they chew their food. There is always going to be something we don’t like about them, but they’re our parents and we love them either way. A Journal of My Father follows Yoichi as he navigates his issues with his father while attending his funeral. The story is both sad and enlightening; giving an in depth look at parent/child relationships.
If this book had a theme song it would be Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle. In the song a man talks about his relationship with his son and how he is constantly putting off having a relationship with him until it is too late. A Journal of My Father is basically the same story. Yoichi, a middle-aged man living in Tokyo, gets a call informing him that his father, who he hasn’t seen in almost two decades, has died. Yoichi then decides to travel back to his hometown for the evening vigil and funeral. While there he reconnects with his sister and uncles and learns things about his father that he never knew, forcing himself to reevaluate his childhood.
The book goes back and forth to the present and Yoichi’s past. While at the vigil, Yoichi hears new stories and old ones about his father, making him realize he never really took the time to get to know him. While I am very close to my family, I can relate to Yoichi in other ways. I myself remember attending my grandfather’s funeral and realizing I never really got to know him. He was a quiet, hardworking man, similar to Yoichi’s father. But unlike Yoichi, I didn’t choose to put distance between myself and my grandfather. Yoichi is still recovering from his mother abandoning his family when he was a boy and holds a lot of resentment toward his father, believing he is the reason that she left. Jiro Taniguchi, the author of this manga, did an amazing job illustrating the resentment Yoichi had toward his father and the eventual release of those feelings as the story went on. As you realize that the feelings Yoichi had toward his father are misplaced, Yoichi also realizes it in the story.
There is an underlying theme of this story that will make you reconsider your own relationships and how much you really know someone if you don’t take the time to learn. Yoichi’s story is one anyone can relate to in one way or another. At the end of the manga he shares his realization to his wife that he spent so much time trying not to be like his father that he never took the time to really get to know him. He moved to Tokyo, miles away from his hometown, and got a job that was unlike his father’s. He put so much effort into trying to live a life dissimilar to his father’s that he ended up just like him. He focused more on his work than his relationships.
I absolutely loved this story and the way it was laid out felt like a movie. I could practically hear the disdain in Yoichi’s uncle’s voice as he was chastising him for never coming home to visit. I could feel the heartache that young Yoichi felt when he realized his mother was never coming home. Taniguchi did such an amazing job telling this story that I couldn’t put the book down. The only criticism I have was that some of the translation was a bit rough, but it was easily overlooked. As someone who didn’t realize my parents were struggling financially when I was growing up until I was an adult, that was one aspect of the book I could really connect with. We see things so differently when we’re children and don’t realize our parents are shielding us from the bad parts until we are old enough to really understand what is going on. Yoichi sadly didn’t realize everything his father did for him until it was too late. A Journal of My Father teaches it’s readers to not put off the things that are important, because one day they won’t be there.
The book opens with some childhood thoughts of Yoichi Yamashita spurred by a phone call at work informing him of his father’s death. So, he journeys back to his hometown after an absence of well over a decade during which time he has not seen his father. But as the relatives gather for the funeral and the stories start to flow, Yoichi’s childhood starts to resurface.Add to CartLearn More