Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House–Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda Reveals New Look

Director Reveals First Look at His Netflix Series ‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’

Set the rarified world of the Japanese geisha, the show marks the Palme d’Or winner’s first series project for a global streaming platform.

Internationally acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has unveiled a first look at his debut drama series for Netflix, The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. The sneak-peak images give fans a glimpse at Kore-eda’s original take on the rarified world of the Japanese geisha.

Based on a best-selling manga by Aiko Koyama, the nine-episode series is set in the traditional Geiko district of Kyoto, depicting the inner sanctum of aspiring Maiko courtesans. The story follows a protagonist named Kiyo (played by Mori Nana) who moves to Kyoto from rural Aomori to become a Makanai (a traditional cook) at a house where a group of Maiko (apprentice Geikos, or geishas) live together.

Kore-eda, who won Cannes’ Palme d’Or in 2018 with his family drama Shoplifters, acts as the show’s producer, showrunner and co-writer.

He also directs some of the episodes, while overseeing a group of other aspiring Japanese directors who will helm additional individual episodes. Kore-eda has been outspoken about his desire to leverage his industry influence to creator opportunities for a new generation of Japanese filmmaking talent. The series is produced by Japanese multi-talent Genki Kawamura.

'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'
‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’ NETFLIX

Other characters and stars of The Makanai include Sumire (Deguchi Natsuki) who arrives from Aomori with Kiyo and is believed to be a “once-a-century talent” as a Maiko. Makita Aju plays Ryoko, the high school daughter of the manager of the Maiko House, while Matsuzaka Keiko plays Chiyo, the former manager of the Maiko House who still plays a key role in its operations.

A-list Japanese star Hashimoto Ai, this year’s ambassador of the Tokyo Film Festival, plays Momoko, the most popular Geiko of the house. Matsuoka Mayu plays Yoshino, a former peer of Momoko who is drawn back into the life of the Geiko. Azusa, the manager of the Maiko House and Ryoko’s mother, is played by veteran Japanese actress Tokiwa Takako.

The other filmmakers Kore-eda has enlisted to co-direct the series include Tsuno Megumi (Ten Years Japan), Okuyama Hiroshi (Jesus), and Sato Takuma (Any Crybabies Around?). They all share screenwriting credits alongside Kore-eda and writer-director Sunada Mami.

The show will launch worldwide on Netflix on Jan. 12, 2023.

'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'
‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’ NETFLIX