Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’ to debut as Netflix series in 2022

Netflix announced an upcoming series titled The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, which is an adaptation of the original Japanese comic, releasing on Netflix in 2022. It is a joint production between Netflix, Story Inc. and BUN-BUKU Inc.

The series is based on Maiko in Kyoto: From the Maiko House, a popular comic by Aiko Koyama first serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday from 2016. The comic won the 65th Shogakukan Manga Award and is a best-seller with over 1.8 million copies sold.

The show’s director Hirokazu Kore-eda will serve as showrunner, director, and writer for the eight-episode Netflix series drama adaptation of the original comic. This series will be the first Netflix production for the critically acclaimed creator to work on, who won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Shoplifters in 2018 as the first Japanese director in 21 years to achieve this.

“After receiving the offer from Kawamura, I actually visited Gion several times. There, I was surprised by how the people living in Maiko Houses were like a family without blood ties, and how the entire town felt like an organism connected by telephone wires. This is not the story of people left behind by the times, but rather one that might provide us with a hint for how we should live in a post-COVID world. With this in mind, I excitedly took on this production. For the role of the Maiko, I conducted repeated auditions of actresses on an even playing field, without any consideration of their careers, in order to make my decision. In addition to (Yohei) Taneda’s large and detailed sets and (Nami) Iijima’s meals, I believe that the greatest charm of this series is the perfect ensemble of actresses, including the house mother and senior geisha who surround the Maiko. We still have more to film, but I look forward to sharing the finished product,” Kore-eda said.

Set in the geisha district of Kyoto, the protagonist Kiyo becomes a Makanai (person who cooks meals) at a house where Maiko (apprentice geishas) live together. The story depicts the everyday life of Kiyo maiko Sumire, her childhood friend who came with her from Aomori to Kyoto, amid a vibrant world of geisha and maiko courtesans and delicious food. 

Kore-eda and Genki Kawamura (Confessions, Villain, Your Name, MIRAI) will be producing the series. Upcoming directors such as Megumi Tsuno (Ten Years Japan), Hiroshi Okuyama (Jesus), and Takuma Sato (Any Crybabies Around?) take the helm in directing individual episodes.

Nana Mori is set to play Kiyo, the Makanai at the Maiko House. Natsuki Deguchi plays Sumire, who comes from Aomori with Kiyo and is believed to be a ‘once-a-century talent’ as Maiko. Aju Makita plays Ryoko, the high school daughter of the manager of the Maiko House. Keiko Matsuzaka plays Chiyo, the previous manager of the Maiko House who still plays a key role in its operation. 

Ai Hashimoto plays Momoko, the most popular Geisha. Mayu Matsuoka plays Yoshino, a former peer of Momoko’s who decides to return back to the path of the Geisha. Takako Tokiwa plays Azusa, the manager of the Maiko House and Ryoko’s mother in the Netflix series.

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