The narrative begins with an explanation of where fugu fish can be found off the shores of Japan. This fish has significance to the narrator of the story because it reminds him of his mother’s death. Fugu fish is a delicacy in Japan and it is also an extremely poisonous fish to eat.The poison resides in the fish’s sex glands, which need to be removed carefully otherwise the poison will seep into the veins of the fish and cause death to anyone who consumes it. One can only find out if the fish has been prepared properly by eating it.
The pain experienced from eating the poisonous fish is unbearable. Fugu gained its popularity after the war; it became tradition for Japanese families to prepare the fish for friends and family. Stricter regulations have been placed since then.
At the time of his mother’s death, the narrator was living in California and had strained his relationship with his parents. He did not know about his mother’s death until two years later when he returned to Tokyo. His mother normally refused to eat fugu, but her friend had prepared the fish for her, and she did not want to be disrespectful towards her friend.
His father reveals this story to him as they drive to his old home. He then learns that his father’s firm had collapsed economically. His father’s partner had also committed suicide due to the stress he was experiencing because of the collapse. His sister Kikuko then arrives, revealing to him that she has found a boyfriend who wishes to go to America with her. She is a bit reluctant to go because she loves living in Japan and is not head over heels in love with her boyfriend just yet.
Together they talk about the stories they use to believe in as children. Then the narrator asks his sister if their dad told him about his friend who committed suicide. Kikuko says that she has and that she heard that he also killed his whole family too. The narrator then tries to scare Kikuko about a woman in the distance wearing a white kimono.
The siblings return to the home to help their father with dinner. Kikuko watches the food while their father gives the narrator a tour of their home. During the tour, his father shows him a room with model ships. The father admits that he has more time on his hands now that the firm is gone. He also regrets not being there for his children.
They return to the kitchen to have supper. While eating Kikuko discovers a photo on the wall with an old woman in a white kimono. The father reveals that it’s their mother. They finish their dinner and Kikuko makes tea while the father and the narrator talk in another room. The father asks if the narrator will stay in Japan and live with him. They talk about the father’s partner at the firm committing suicide. The father also hopes that Kikuko will stay home after she finished college.
There is a gap in a Family Supper. In the middle of the passage, the siblings see an eerie woman in a white kimono in the far distance. Later on in the passage the siblings see the same woman in the white kimono but in a picture form. They discover that the woman is their mother. By using “creative participation” we can try to fill in the blanks by assuming that what the siblings saw was the ghost of their mother. Her spirit was with them that day.