Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House is light and dusted with sugar

When you think of geisha, “cute” and “homemade” are probably not the first words that come to mind. But they are the defining features of “The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House,” a Netflix drama set in a shared residence for maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto’s Gion district.

A synopsis for the show makes it sound like something created by an algorithm aimed at Netflix viewers who have enjoyed the armchair tourism of “Emily in Paris,” the unpretentious gourmet cuisine of “The Chef Show.” and the plotless drift of “Terrace House.” .”

In fact, the series bears the imprint of Palme d’Or-winning filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, who acts as showrunner and co-writer in addition to directing several episodes. It’s her first foray into serialized drama since 2012’s “Going My Home,” though the most obvious antecedent is the cozy, female-centric “Our Little Sister” (2015).

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