The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

Set in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha quarters, The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, depicts the daily life of geisha and maiko. This heartfelt drama by Hirokazu Koreeda is the best, most realistic depiction of the secret world of geisha I’ve ever seen.


The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Origin

Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House was originally a comic by Aiko Koyama called Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san that debuted in 2016 in the manga magazine Weekly Shonen Sunday.

In October of 2021, it was made into an animation and has now been transformed into a live-action drama by director Koreeda.

A Peek Into the World of Geisha

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House allows you to take a peek into the closed world of geisha. Cell phones are prohibited, maiko can’t go to convenience stores with their hair made up, and the girls must sleep on an omaku wooden pillow to keep their hair from being unset.

Geisha and Maiko Dinner Japan and More Tour

Geisha and Maiko Dinner | Japan and More Tour

It’s an entertaining story that offers the opportunity to also learn about the rules and culture of this ancient tradition.

Once the girls join the Okiya, or geisha house, they train extensively to learn the customs, instruments, and dances in their effort to become a maiko. A maiko is an aspiring geisha. While they perform under the title of a maiko, their real hair is styled for a week at a time.

If they’re good enough to become a full-fledged geisha, they are then able to move out of the Okiya and cut their hair. When performing, geisha wear an intricate wig along with their elaborate kimono.

Becki Translating for Geisha

Becki Translating for Geisha | Japan and More Tour

The show does a great job of also showing that even geisha and maiko are only human. They have the same thoughts, feelings, and worries as other girls their age. This show is a realistic interpretation of the daily life of geisha and maiko.

A Window Into Japan

One of the things I like the most about this show is the way the characters live their daily lives.

It’s easy to forget that this story takes place in today’s Japan. However, it’s not movie magic. There are extraordinarily modern homes in Japan, but most people live in something that looks somewhat similar to the house in this show.

Thoughtfulness toward friends and rivals, an obsession with food, and the complexity of the relationships between senpai and kouhai are well represented in this show. It’s a bit quirky sometimes, but overall, the acting is realistic and fantastic.

Geisha and Maiko Entertainment

A convoluted history and the release of a less than accurate Hollywood movie, have led to a simple misunderstanding of the role of modern-day geisha and maiko.

Becki Playing Game with Maiko

Becki Playing Game with Maiko

An Ozashiki Asobi is an event where you can enjoy a meal, drinks, and games with geisha and maiko. Each guest is served a kaiseki meal while watching a dance performance. Then afterward the guests engage in conversation and drinking games with the geisha and maiko.

Maiko Dancing a Mai

Maiko Dancing a Mai

At these events, geisha and maiko entertain private audiences with a performance of centuries-old dances called Mai. These events are expensive and only available to a small number of people.

Shawn Seated with Maiko

Shawn Seated with a Maiko

It is an amazing experience and one that should not be missed if you ever have the chance.

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Official Trailer