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Hirokazu Kore-eda talks exploring the world of Japanese geisha for Netflix series 'The Makanai: Cooking for a Maiko House'

It was Hirokazu Kore-eda who infused the world of Japanese geisha with his signature gentle humanism in The Makanai: Cooking for the House of Maiko , which is His first series for Netflix, launches globally this week.

Based on Aiko Koyama’s best-selling manga, the nine-episode series depicts the inner sanctum of aspiring maiko courtesans set in Kyoto’s traditional geisha district. The story follows two young girls, Kiyo (Mori Nana) and Sumire (Exit Natsuki), who move from rural Aomori to Kyoto with dreams of becoming geisha. But while Sumire was immediately recognized as a talent for the traditional arts of a geisha (dancing, elaborate costumes, and sophisticated music production), Qing proved less than appropriate. Instead, she found her place as a Makanai, a traditional cook who prepared meals in the yakata house where all the geisha lived together.

Hirokazu Kore-eda and his Family Drama Family of Thieves , as Producer, Showrunner and Co-Writer. He also directed some episodes while supervising three aspiring Japanese protégés — Megumi Kadono, Hiroshi Okuyama and Takuma Sato — who helmed additional solo episodes. Kore-eda has been outspoken about his desire to use his industry clout to create opportunities for a new generation of Japanese filmmaking talent. The collection is produced by Japanese multi-talented Genki Kawamura (Confessions, Your Name). 'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'

‘The Makanai: Cooking for a Maiko House’ Netflix

“It’s Hirokazu Kore-eda who brings something to The Makanai with Broker and Shoplifters with the same tenderness and compassion) are so beloved,” critic for The Hollywood Reporter Writing in her review Thursday, she called the series “comfortable and comforting like home cooking.”

THR Discuss the inspiration behind his first Netflix project with Hirokazu Kore-eda, as well as some of the more thorny questions about the proper place of the geisha tradition in contemporary Japanese life.

What inspired you to tell this story?

Well, I’m interested because it’s a place I don’t The World That Knows. I’ve seen this world portrayed by Kenji Mizoguchi and Mikio Naruse in movies, but I realize I don’t know anything about how geishas and maikos actually live today. So I was curious to see the world. And when I started researching, I found out that their life style is really very different from the experience of most of us. Most of us have lost touch with these customs and forgotten many of them. The way they lived according to the seasons and all the rituals they observed – these traditions have continued. Today, it’s a very small community and world, so they’re very connected in it. I think reflecting on this different, ancient way of life might give us some insight into how the rest of us live today. This is the world I knew I would love to photograph.

Could you share a little more about your research process? What do you need to do to make sure you get all the details of their traditions and way of life right?

Well, the original manga is obviously fictional. In real life, there are no teenagers who play real in that setting. But when I was doing research, I went to a house in Yakata where all the women lived as a small community, and I stayed with their Makanai for a while. The person I interviewed was one of her 10. She’s not actually a Makanai inside; she has a separate home where she lives and cooks all the meals. But I basically followed her around all day, watching what she did and how she lived. Then for the ya-shaped houses, I can’t actually visit them directly because they have very strict rules that no outsiders are allowed to enter. But there are people known as otokoshi, whose job it is to dress maikos in kimonos; they are the only outsiders allowed into the yakuza. So, I was able to do some research and get some impressions through the eyes of makanai and otokoshi. I also visited nearby kimono houses and studied ozashiki, which is where geishas and maikos demonstrate their art to an audience. Finally, I also interviewed some maiko and geisha. 'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'

‘The Makanai: Cooking for Maiko House’ Netflix

From what I understand, there are usually many 2908 international Prostitution and misunderstanding of traditional historical realities. And I believe there is even a debate within Japan about how powerful geishas have historically been and how the tradition should be viewed in modern feminist ideals. You told a very sweet and innocent story with this series, but what you just said didn’t 70 year olds are serving as Makanai in geisha parlors today, which makes me wonder what you think about some of these more complex issues. This story really happened when two year old girls dropped out of school After high school to work in this world. While this is a world of refined, highly developed art forms, it also comes down to young women entertaining and serving drinks to much older men. During the course of making the show, did you develop an opinion about the proper place of this tradition in Japanese society today?

Have you watched all the episodes?

I’ve seen five so far.

Well, I know people do have opinions about the opposite of this All aspects of the problem, not just my experience working on this drama. Personally, I feel that this tradition may need some reformation, and some people in this world tell me that efforts are being made to do so. But as you mentioned, it’s also true that there are a lot of misconceptions about geisha and maiko. When I interviewed one of the Okami-sans, who used to be housekeepers, they told me that many visiting foreigners had seen “Memoirs of a Geisha” and their understanding of a geisha was completely shaped by that movie . So they assume that all the girls were sold to the house because of bad upbringing, or that they were sold to the house out of desperation. And my own understanding of geisha is basically influenced by Mizoguchi, who also told very sad stories in that era.

But in real life, when I did my research and went to Hanamachi (the area where geisha live and work), the people I met there were very enthusiastic about it Tradition, which is something they actively seek. They want to preserve the culture, they want it to be embraced, and they’re very serious about continuing to reform. All the houses I’ve been approached will only accept maiko if they have the explicit support of their parents. In my opinion, they really took solid action, and I felt their passion to preserve the tradition and the art form. Personally, I feel like I want to root for them. Obviously, it’s not perfect. But the creators of our entertainment industry, we have no time to reform. So, I think we can continue to work together in that sense.

But when I was developing the show, I did think it would be pretty irresponsible to introduce the world as a pure, dreamlike land of wonder. So I also added some elements to the show that weren’t in the original manga – as a slight criticism. That’s why I’m asking how many shows you watch. For example, I included the character of the daughter who is strongly critical of the maiko ways. I also added Sumire’s father, who strongly disapproves of her wanting to become a maiko. Then I also have the sequence where Okami-san shares her opinion in response. So I added those elements to introduce some of the issues you raised, but in the end, I tried to leave it to the audience to form their own judgment.


‘The Makanai: Cooking House for Maiko’ Netflix

'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House' What are your visual aspirations for this show, given this automatic expectation of rare beauties around Kyoto geisha? There’s such a lovely natural glow to the whole show.

Well, I thought about the beauty of the streets of Kyoto and the kimono— – I obviously want to set the food on fire to make it look delicious. These are some of the obvious things that come to mind. But what concerns me most is how the Yakata, or geisha house, is built. We designed three stories. The first floor is the public space; the second floor has the bedrooms; and then the third floor is Kiyo’s loft. We also added an upper laundry area on the fourth floor. We build all of these as one set in the studio. In each of these four distinct areas, women show different faces. For example, on the first floor, you have Okasan, the mother, and next door, you have the adjoining bar, which has customers. So this floor is the public area, where they put on their public face. The second floor is a common area, so they have their common life in this space. Then on the third floor, we always find Kiyo alone. The outdoor laundry area next to the neighbors is where they go when they are dealing with growing issues or not yet mature adults. This is a transitional space. Through the dialogue that takes place in these four spaces, I wanted to clearly delineate the differences in the air, giving these nuances solid shape. If I can do this, I feel that the characters in the story will be more three-dimensional and rich.



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