Until now, reviews of Hiromi Goto’s (1966 - ) debut work Chorus of Mushrooms (1994, below “Chorus”) and studies on her early works often attempt to position the Japanese-Canadian author as a diaspora writer. For example, Guy Beauregard pointed out that Goto’s doubtful view of cultural homogeneity in Chorus is connected with “writing diaspora” theory including“ the automatized other” that Rey Chow once analyzed using the works of Chaplin. Eva Rich Ponce focused on the languages used in Chorus (primarily English and Japanese), and discussed the process of Japanese-descent people finding a cultural identity as depicted by Goto, and Goto’s deconstruction of Canadian stereotypes of Japanese-descent people.
Chorus is deeply concerned with Goto’s own origins as someone born in Chiba, Japan and moved to Canada at the age of three. Japan-born Goto has a strong fixation on the reality of being unable to create strong roots in a Canadian society permeated by a culture centered on white people, and on her own pursuit of an ethnic identity. It is possible to consider these aspects as tending toward the characteristics of diaspora writers and, as such, it is possible to position this book among diaspora literature. However, that is not all of what is depicted in Chorus. In this work, Goto consistently resists existing norms, namely, social norms, cultural norms, and even gender norms; we can perceive this work as demonstrating the beginning of Goto’s daring attempt to deconstruct norms. For example, Naoe, the grandmother of the protagonist Muriel, alludes to Zhuang Zhou’s “Dream of theButterfly.” A Chinese philosopher (Zhuang Zhou) dreams that he became a butterfly, and when he woke up, he was not sure if he was a butterfly or a human, but Naoe wonders why it is necessary to make a distinction between a butterfly and a human (44). In this way, Goto tries to deviate from existing dualistic perceptions and value systems through Naoe. Regarding norms, there are many types, including social, cultural, sexual, and sensual norms, but if we look at “mushrooms” as seen in the book’s title, this is also related to Goto’s resistance to and deconstruction of all kinds of norms. Accordingly, this paper focuses on mushrooms and the mushroom cultivation shed, which have symbolic implications in Chorus, and examines how Goto depicted these while deconstructing existing normative awareness and tearing down the boundaries that divide mainstream culture and subculture, whites and non-whites, men and women, and homosexuality and heterosexuality.