Title: Maiko-san Chi No Makanai-san (舞妓さんちのまかないさん)
Author: Aiko Koyama (Story & Art)
Genres: Cooking, Slice of Life
Published: 2017 – Present (Japan)
Volumes: 15 [Ongoing]
Japanese Publisher: Shogakukan
Available to Purchase? Yes, but only in Japanese (CDJapan / Amazon JP (global) / Bookwalker JP)
This Review is Based On: The first couple of volumes.
Synopsis: Kiyo and Sumire came to Kyoto from Aomori Prefecture, dreaming of becoming maiko. But after an unexpected turn of events, Kiyo starts working as the live-in cook at the Maiko House. Their story unfolds in the Kagai, the Geiko and maiko district in Kyoto, alongside their housemate maikos. Kiyo nourishes them daily with her home-cooked meals, and Sumire strives toward her promising future as the once-in-a-century maiko.
Step into the glamorous Kagai, warm your heart with behind-the-scenes anecdotes and Kiyo’s kitchen episodes. Stay tuned for this touching tale of 2 childhood friends lifting each other up as they grow together. (MAL via NHK World Japan, edited)
Ah, what a gem I’ve found for this review! I introduce to you: Maiko-san Chi No Makanai-san.
This manga centers around a 16 year old girl named Kiyo who is working as the cook in a household of maiko (apprentice geisha). Kiyo moved to Kyoto with her friend Sumire, with the dream of both girls becoming maiko together. However, Kiyo is rather absentminded and she is expelled from her maiko studies before long. On the verge of having to return to her home back in Aomori Prefecture, Kiyo saves the day at the last minute when she cooks up a delicious homemade meal for the women of the maiko manor. The “mother” of the household, always mentioned as simply “Mother,” allows Kiyo to remain at the maiko manor in exchange for being their new cook. This arrangement works perfectly for Kiyo, as her true love appears to be cooking over studying the arts anyways, and the household was on the verge of losing their present cook due to health issues. So with that, Kiyo becomes the household chef while her friend Sumire continues on her journey to being the best maiko she can be.
This manga is easily one of the most pleasant, wholesome titles I have covered in throughout all my reviews. Maiko-san Chi No Makanai-san has short chapters, but despite their shorter length they successfully take many snapshots of life in the maiko manor, and in the process they flesh out the lives of Kiyo, Sumire, and the other women in the household. The reader learns about what the life of a maiko apprentice (and later an actual maiko) entails, and how much work they have to put into their training in order to be able to succeed as future geisha.
The first several chapters focus on Kiyo’s role in the maiko household, as well as her background and how she came to Kyoto with Sumire. We see that although Kiyo is a little scatter-brained, she has a heart of gold and is as hard-working when it comes to cooking as Sumire is with her maiko training. Although the two girls do not get to see or talk to each other much due to their respective schedules, they still hold onto their friendship and sneak moments together when they can.
I also think it’s rather cute while some of the professionals in the “maiko world” acknowledge that Kiyo is very ditzy (much to Kiyo’s embarrassment because they don’t keep those comments to themselves, oh no they do not), they are in awe of how she has transformed during her time as a cook in the maiko manor. It’s almost like she is another person. Which she sort of is, if you think about it. Everyone has different skill sets and is good at different things, and just because one person is bad at Thing A does not mean they’ll be bad at everything else. Kiyo’s strength is cooking, not learning the arts, and I’m sure if you put Sumire or another maiko (or even Mother) in the kitchen they would be just as lost as Kiyo was with her maiko training.
At the end of every chapter is a peek at a dish or drink used within its pages, and some notes from the author on its ingredients or on how to prepare it.
Also, some exciting news! Maiko-san Chi No Makanai-san is getting an anime adaption and it’s being released in Japan on the NHK World-Japan channel on February 25, 2021. So if you’re able to, please watch and support this title! If it’s anything like the manga it’s based upon, it’s going to be a great show. ^_^v You can watch the trailer here.
Do I Recommend This Title to Others?: Absolutely! If you’re interested in the world of maiko and geisha, this manga gives the reader a casual yet informative look at their world and how it operates. It’s cute, wholesome, and it’ll leave you with all the warm fuzzies you could hope for.
Final Score: 10/10
Author’s Note: I wanted to mention that this will be my last manga review for the time being. I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from manga reviews in order to focus on other responsibilities in my life right now. I am, however, going to continue on with my weekly Saiunkoku reviews until the end of its first season.
So, I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone who’s taken a few minutes out of their daily lives to read my manga reviews. Whether you’re a long-time reader or someone new to AngryAnimeBitches, thank you for being here and for all your support! <3
I look forward to when I’m able to return to reviewing manga again in the future.
In the meantime, do you know of any titles I should definitely consider reading and/or reviewing?
Leave a comment below and let me know. : )