Kinou Nani Tabeta/What Did You Eat Yesterday Episode 5 (Recap)

As always thanks to kinounaniresource on tumblr for subbing this drama. It’s like a gift of the perfect blanket. She’s also subbed ep 6 and loves the show, so I’m pretty sure the subbing will continue to the end.

She has Masters in Japanese studies, so she is not only fluent in Japanese, but she also gives other cultural information that is so important to really understanding the show like the New Year's traditions that are central to episode 5. She also has translated reviews of the show (good) and provides other information that you'd get from being able to read articles about the show.

According to her, the show is doing really well in Japan, good enough to garner talks of a sequel. The only problem with that would be trying to fit anything around Hidetoshi Nishijima’s schedule. But why wouldn’t he be in high demand? He can pull off every single genre!

Okay, I need to focus because despite my admiration for Hidetoshi Nishijima's acting skills, I believe this episode really belongs to Seiyo Uchino's Kenji.

Kenji: watching cute Jpop idols dancing on his television screen.
Episode 5

The episode opens with a scene at the salon where Kenji works. They are all discussing their favorite flavor of Sapporo Ichiban Ramen. Two of the staff say salt, Kenji agrees with another staff member on miso. When their boss comes in, he asks what they are talking about, and when they tell him, he says the best is soy sauce.They all look at him like he's crazy, and it reminds me of the kinds of nothing conversations people have at work when they are comfortable together to talk about random things. No wonder Kenji wishes he could talk about Shiro more at work. It's that type of place.

We switch to the hospital where Shiro’s dad had his surgery. The family meets with the doctor who tells them that he is really recovering very well. They all bow, and Shiro’s mom thanks the doctor profusely; Shiro and his dad share a smile at how thankful she is. She looks like she wants to cry, but Shiro grins widely.

The warm feeling continues at the house as they have snack at the table, and Shiro’s mom serves them a new kind of tea. Shiro tells his dad that his surgery has made Shiro think more positively about marriage probably because it made him look at his parents as a couple rather than just as his parents.

Immediately, the mood changes. His mom is skeptical. She calls him out for saying this, wondering (worrying?) about Kenji, and whether Shiro has ever had a serious discussion with him about spending the rest of their lives together.
She’s annoyed that he’d make such a comment when he’s 45 years old and he hasn’t really thought about his later years. He’s shocked at her anger, but she asserts that they need to have a serious talk about it and demands that he show up at New Years for it.

We see him complaining about this to Kenji at breakfast. He wants to know why she harps on the fact that he is 45, but then treats him like he’s a teenager. He doesn’t want to go back for New Year’s. It’s stressful with her nagging, and he always gains weight when he goes home.

Kenji has had enough of his bitching and moaning about his mom. He calmly holds his coffee cup but with quiet steel in his voice, he wonders about Shiro’s ego and why he is always picking on his mother. From Kenji's perspective, Shiro’s mom is a gift. She doesn’t say anything about him being gay and not giving her any grandchildren but is supporting him in the lifestyle he’s chosen. What she lacks in sensitivity, he believes she makes up for in her efforts to be supportive. He tells Shiro to stop complaining  and go visit on New Year. I love Kenji here. He doesn’t need to shout or wheedle or cajole to make his point that Shiro is acting like a teenager.

Shiro is clearly struck by this. He is a bit stunned because it seems like this is the first time Kenji has been truly mad at him. He thinks about Kenji and his comments all day at work. Even his new client, an owner of a hair salon, makes him think about Kenji’s family.

He's ashamed that he was complaining about his own family when he really knows nothing about Kenji's. He doesn’t even remember if Kenji has told him where his parents live. You can tell he’s feeling guilty about everyone—his parents and Kenji.

We switch to Kenji’s work where the only people left are him and his boss. His boss is commenting on how he hardly saw his parents until he had kids, which makes Kenji wonder whether he had been too hard on Shiro in the morning about going to visit his parents.

Because of this, most likely, he looks a little nervous going into the apartment that night. However, Shiro acts like nothing has happened, and Kenji is relieved. He’s even happier when he sees what they are having for dinner. They are a bunch of his favorites that Shiro usually never puts together, including anake fried rice.

Shiro merely says that he’s trying something different, but I think we all know that he made these because they are Kenji’s favorites. I think Kenji realizes this as well. He’s about to apologize for what he said that morning, but Shiro interrupts him to tell him that he is going to go home for New Year’s.

Kenji doesn’t seem to know how to react—so many emotions flit across his face at once, but Shiro just smiles at him and compliments his taste. I love the way these two love each other. Such support and deep friendship in addition to being lovers.

We have the credit song here and switch to the morning of Shiro’s departure. He’s stalling with worry about Kenji being alone for the holiday, but Kenji pushes him out the door explaining that he’ll be fine because not only does he have to work late but that his colleagues are also planning a get together afterwards.

Shiro shows up at his parents’ house to find his mother teetering on a step stool trying to hang up decorations. He rushes to help her, annoyed that she is doing this by herself and dangerously at that. She says that his father usually does it, but smiles when she sees he doesn’t even need the stool to put up decorations. He asks her whether there’s anything else that needs to be fixed. Oh Shiro, you are in for it now. See the look of excitement she has?

We next see Shiro cleaning leaves out of the gutter with his mother giving him directions from an upstairs window. While she asking him to attend to something else after he is done with the gutters and while he’s still working on the gutters, his dad comes out with a question about his phone. This doesn’t surprise me in the least.

I was surprised at how he showed up dressed in decent clothes. My assumption when I go home to visit my parents, and definitely when I went to visit my grandparents as an adult, was that I will be cleaning and cooking and fixing. I pack accordingly.

Later while Shiro sits down to hotpot with his parents, Kenji is out with his colleagues beginning to celebrate the New Year. He keeps checking his phone as they talk, and when they discuss going for another round, he slides some money over to his colleague and excuses himself. They try to get him to stay, especially since they know that Shiro’s out of town. But he insists that he has to go. One of his junior colleagues thinks he’s having an affair, but no one else does.

We see Kenji practically skipping along with a grocery bag only to watch him go . . . home! Apparently, he’s been craving Sapporo Ichiban Ramen with miso since they talked about it at work, and he is going to treat himself to this for New Years. According to kinounaniresource, it is good luck to eat noodles on New Year’s Eve, so this is a perfect meal. This turns out to be the recipe of the episode, and Kenji gets to fix it!

I was very excited to get to watch him cook and enjoy it so much as a treat to himself. I even learned how to poach an egg in the microwave (thanks, show). He is very meticulous in how he cooks as well and ignores his phone at one point because he’s timing something on the stove. The result, of course looks delicious. And watching Kenji eat it was even better.

He is having the time of his life spending New Years in his apartment alone. I love this. As much as Kenji is the “outgoing one” of the couple, he does fit Shiro well because he actually likes being home. He chooses to go back home alone and make his own dinner and sit in front of the television watching the countdown rather than hanging out longer with his colleagues and going to temple. He is thoroughly enjoying eating his food and being in his apartment. I can relate.

His phone goes off several times during his cooking and during his eating, but he doesn’t picked up. He's too busy enjoying his alone time with his noodles and boy bands! He even watches the countdown with excitement.

He finally notices his phone when it buzzes again after the countdown. Of course, it’s Shiro who doesn’t respond happily at Kenji’s warm “Happy New Year.” He is the person who has been calling all along because he was worried that Kenji would be sad alone. Kenji gets flustered at the tone and immediately confesses to eating Sapporo Ichiban ramen, waiting for Shiro to admonish him for eating so late. Shiro is silent, and we all wait until Shiro admits that he can’t be mad at him for not answering since of course you have to eat that ramen while it’s hot! Kenji practically melts with love for this man. I do, too. 
You have to love someone who isn’t resentful when you pick hot food over them.

The next scene opens with a shot of the meal that Shiro is having with his parents on New Year’s Day. According to kinounaniresource,  this meal is called o-sechi and is the traditional meal served on this holiday and it takes ages to prepare.
Shiro is impressed when his mom tells him that she made everything except for one of the dishes, and when he compliments her on a couple of them, she laughs because it’s always this good.

During this meal, guests arrive for New Year’s greetings. I love the look of panic on Shiro’s face when he realizes he is going to have to talk to people! (So me! Introverts, unite!) 

But he realizes that these are actually the mother, wife, and children of a neighbor guy he remembers. We also learn that his parents watch the children when the parents are away. He watches his parents with the kids and realizes that they have sort of adopted these kids as their grandchildren because the know that he won’t give them any. He looks both sad and grateful to them.

Before he leaves, his mother packs up some food for him. She gives him a huge bag of Mochi because the neighbor always brings loads over each New Years and some kuri kinton. Shiro tries to resist (it really is a lot of mochi) but caves when his mom admits that they still have some left in the freezer from last New Years!

Before he goes, Shiro asks about that important talk she wanted to have with him about his twilight years, but she no longer thinks he needs it. She thanks him for everything he did that day.
He arrives home with the (huge) bag of mochi. Kenji is enthusiastic because they don’t have it that much and it’s the old-fashioned hand made kind, so it's such a treat. 

They make that night’s meal together, putting the mochi in the microwave to make it puff up (another idea I never would’ve thought of). They have a great meal of Karami mochi and Kinako mochi and talk about the visit and about family in general. We learn with Shiro that Kenji’s dad disappeared seemingly awhile ago, and his mom lives with his sister. This surprises Shiro, but Kenji brushes it off because it’s old news and his mom and sisters are happy. 

This is all lovely and warm, but let us not forget that we have that whole bag of mochi, and we also know that Shiro doesn’t believe in wasting anything, so he starts in on meals of mochi dishes

January 2 Breakfast: Zouni with a side of kuri kinton

January 2 Dinner: more mochi dishes.(I don't know what they are called)

January 3 Breakfast: more zouni, but Kanto-style

January 3 Dinner: Mochi pizza

With each meal, Kenji's enthusiasm dims a bit, so that by the time Shiro tells him to eat up and serves him another helping of the pizza, he looks like he might tear up.

On the morning of January 4, Shiro is about to come up with yet another mochi breakfast dish, when Kenji stops him. Kenji actually grabs him by the shoulders, shaking Shiro and begging him to have any other kind of carb that is not mochi. 

He even says they can go the ex-girlfriend’s place for bread as long as he doesn’t have to eat mochi! Ha!This is probably how a third of the United states feels about turkey dishes after Thanksgiving!

They end up having toast with some of the  kuri kinton that Shiro’s mom sent, and Kenji is really happy. That is until Shiro reminds him that they are going to have mochi for dinner. After all, they have enough mochi for a month of meals!
Mochi in the microwave


It’s very clear that Shiro looks at his parents differently since the surgery and even after his visit. Kenji’s comments made him reframe his position with them because he was really still seeing them mainly from his position as their child even though he is 45 years old. I can understand that. It took me years to not immediately react like the resentful teenager with my dad and hated going home because of that. We have so many stages with our parents, and it can be difficult to see them as people and not just our parents. It’s clear from the last episode that Shiro was actually surprised to think about his parents being in love with each other and having that kind of supportive relationship.

Here, Kenji forces him to look at his mother from an outsider's perspective. Shiro finds her a pain, but most people would see her as very progressive and supporting for her age. And the fact that she is chastising him about thinking about his future with Kenji and definitely settling down just like she would if he were straight says something particular to Kenji about her that Shiro has just taken for granted. We see this when he comments on the food being so good (when it has clearly always been this good) and when he recognizes how his parents would really love to have grandchildren but have not spoken a word to him about it.

Like I said, this episode to me really gave Kenji an opportunity to shine. I was worried that he seemed to be need Shiro too much because of his insecurities about the relationship. However, even though he admits that he's happy to be alone on New Year's because he knows that Shiro will be coming back, that doesn't lessen the sheer joy he exudes in his time in the apartment or, more importantly, the effect he has on Shiro--proving that Shiro needs him as much if not more than he needs Shiro. We learned early on that Shiro wants to just enjoy his life; Kenji helps him learn how to see things better to enjoy his life more.