The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House review: Heartwarming, savory slice-of-life

‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’ follows best friends for life Kiyo and Sumire, pursuing two different paths inside the Maiko House in Kyoto.


BFFs Sumire and Kiyo depart their homes in Aomori prefecture and move to Kyoto, to become Maiko entertainers.

The Maiko House is filled with kind and supportive members, seniors, and juniors. Kiyo and Sumire’s contemporaries are referred to as “Sisters” and the teachers as “Mothers.”

While Sumire excels on her path to becoming a Maiko, Kiyo’s skills are subpar, and she’s soon advised to return home and pursue something else.

However, when Kiyo finds her passion in cooking food, she assumes the unofficial position of the Makanai, making food for everyone and delighting them and herself with eclectic dishes.

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In the meantime, there are various little adventures and subplots involving other sisters and mothers at the Maiko House, that Kiyo and Sumire help out in their own capacities, however, it’s the former who ultimately always ends up delivering a happy ending with her dishes.

Soon, Kiyo’s position as the Makanai becomes official while Sumire also achieves her dream, becoming a Maiko at a young age.


Nana Mori and Natsuki Deguchi are excellent as two inseparable friends with an obvious yet so understated camaraderie between them.

Ai Hashimoto delivers a layered performance of an overachiever who tussles with the difficulties of leading a love life and a professional one.


‘The Makanai’ is an adorable binge of slice-of-life drama, maintaining a real light tone throughout its runtime with moments where the characters also go through their lows, owing to the struggles of waning love for the craft and having to choose between love and profession.

The cinematography is just as striking as the eclectic range of dishes Kiyo cooks up for anyone with a growling stomach or an eager palette.


The love triangle of Kiyo, Sumire, and Kenta never gets a chance to really get going before ‘The Makanai’ rolls the credits.

Apart from the aforementioned trope, there are a lot of other loose threads that are never resolved and all that’s left is something to be desired from a number of subplots.


From the cooking montages to the adorable relationships, ‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’ portrays its numerous storylines, characters, and dynamics with the same warmth that oozes out of every single frame in this brilliantly shot and directed slice-of-life series.

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House
The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House review: Heartwarming, savory slice-of-life 1

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda, Megumi Tsuno, Hiroshi Okuyama, and Takuma Sato

Date Created: 2023-01-12 13:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: The Makanai ending explained: Does Sumire become a Maiko?