The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

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The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House
Promotional release poster
Based onKiyo in Kyoto
by Aiko Koyama
Written byHirokazu Kore-eda
Screenplay byMami Sunada
Directed byHirokazu Kore-eda
ComposerYoko Kanno
Country of originJapan
Original languageJapanese
No. of episodes9
ProducerGenki Kawamura
CinematographyRyuto Kondo
Production companiesBunkuku
Story Inc.
Original release
ReleaseJanuary 12, 2023 (2023-01-12)

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House (舞妓さんちのまかないさん) is a Japanese television series about contemporary life in a geisha house in Kyoto, Japan. The series stars Nana Mori, Natsuki Deguchi, and Aju Makita, released by Netflix on January 12, 2023.[1] Hirokazu Kore-eda served as director, writer, and showrunner, The Makanai being his first time directing a Netflix production.[2]


The show is based on the manga Kiyo in Kyoto by Aiko Koyama.[3] The nine episodes follow the story of best friends Kiyo (Mori) and Sumire (Deguchi) as they move from their hometown in northern Aomori to Kyoto's Gion district to live in an all-female house of geiko and maiko with dreams of becoming geiko themselves. Though Sumire is hailed as a talent, Kiyo is deemed unfit to become a maiko but soon finds her unexpected calling as their live-in cook.[4]


Episode 1 - Change

Netflix Description:

Kiyo and Sumire leave their hometown and head to Kyoto, where they will train as apprentice maiko entertainers.

Episode 2 - Guardian Spirit

Netflix Description

Kiyo receives some unfortunate news, but quickly finds her true calling when the maiko sisters get tired of ordering takeout.

Episode 3 - Taboo

Netflix Description:

A former maiko suddenly makes a return; to her delight, Kiyo receives a heavy package from home.

Episode 4 - Wish

Netflix Description:

Kiyo and Sumire get a day off and explore the city, making a wish at the shrine; an unexpected guest visits the maiko house, much to Sumire's dismay.

Episode 5 - Choice

Netflix Description:

Love is in the air, but Kiyo only has eyes for food; Sumire receives wonderful news; Ryoko battles with her feelings.

Episode 6 - One-sided

Netflix Description:

Kiyo sets her eyes on the top prize of a lottery sponsored by the local shops; Momoko tries a bowl of Kiyo's cream stew.

Episode 7 - Illness

Netflix Description:

The geiko and maiko ladies kick off the new year at an annual ceremony; Sumire loses her appetite, but Kiyo cooks up an antidote.

Episode 8 - Carnival

Netflix Description:

Momoko takes charge of the annual costume event; Sumire accompanies Momoko to a high-end client dinner.

Episode 9 - Passage

Netflix Description:

While Sumire continues to shine, Tsurukoma reconsiders her future; Kiyo prepares her most important meal yet.


  • Nana Mori as Kiyo,[5] a would-be maiko applicant from Aomori who is rejected for the role but ends up cooking for the Saku House
  • Natsuki Deguchi as Sumire/Momohana,[5] Kiyo's long-time companion and best friend who succeeds in becoming a maiko
  • Aju Makita as Ryoko,[5] Mother Azusa's daughter who also lives in the Saku House
  • Takako Tokiwa as Mother Azusa,[5] the co-proprietor of the Saku House
  • Keiko Matsuzaka as Mother Chiyo,[5] the co-proprietor of the Saku House
  • Ai Hashimoto as Momoko,[5] a veteran geiko who takes in Sumire as her apprentice
  • Mayu Matsuoka as Yoshino,[5] a former geiko who returns to the Saku House to resume her career after divorcing her husband
  • Momoko Fukuchi as Tsurukoma, a maiko at the Saku House who quits the profession at the end of the series
  • Lily Franky as Mr. Ren, the bartender


Kore-eda directed the first two episodes, with the remaining seven directed by directors Megumi Tsuno, Hiroshi Okuyama, and Takuma Sato.[2]

Depictions of geisha[edit]

Previous portrayals of geisha and their milieu, such as Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha and its film adaptation, have been criticised for conflating geisha culture as a form of "highly-stylized prostitution".[6] The popularity of the film led to a surge in tourists in the geisha districts of Kyoto, instances of harassment of geisha in public, and a 2019 ban of photographing geisha implemented by the Gion geisha district. Kore-eda commented that the series might dispel some inaccurate beliefs perpetuated by Memoirs, such as maiko being sold by their parents. However, Kiyo's work as a makanai, the in-house cook and helper, is also unrealistic; there are no teenage makanai.[7]


  1. ^ "『舞妓さんちのまかないさん』、森七菜、出口夏希ら豪華キャストと是枝裕和が語る"ほっこり"メイキング映像". MSN (in Japanese). Archived from the original on January 24, 2023. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Shackleton, Liz (January 11, 2023). "Hirokazu Kore-eda On His First Netflix Series 'The Makanai' And Revamping Japan's Film Industry". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 20, 2023. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  3. ^ Hadfield, James (January 12, 2023). "Hirokazu Kore-eda's 'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House' is light and dusted with sugar". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2023. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  4. ^ Hadadi, Roxana (January 19, 2023). "The Makanai's Twin Appetites". Vulture. Archived from the original on January 19, 2023. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "「舞妓さんちのまかないさん」Netflixでドラマ化!監督は是枝裕和、森七菜&出口夏希のW主演". Natalie. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  6. ^ "The Rich Culture at the Heart of Netflix's 'The Makanai'". Time. January 12, 2023. Archived from the original on January 23, 2023. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  7. ^ Brzeski, Patrick (January 13, 2023). "Hirokazu Kore-eda on Exploring World of Japanese Geisha for Netflix Series 'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 19, 2023. Retrieved January 19, 2023.

External links[edit]