Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 気になってる人が男じゃなかった // Next 葬送のフリーレン, then ウスズミの果て

舞妓さんちのまかないさん (Maiko-san no chi no makanai-san; AKA Kiyo in Kyoto)

Natively: Level 24 (Thanks @Shadowlauch)


This is a geisha district in the middle of Kyoto. Maiko comes home after working late at night, and lives in a shared-house called a yakata. Kiyo, a 16-year-old girl who prepares daily meals for the maiko at a certain house as a makanai-san. There is an unexpected reason why she became a makanai-san.

A warm human pattern is drawn through the backstage of the gorgeous entertainment district and the meal of an ordinary day. (translated from

Kiyo Nozuki and Sumire Herai are childhood friends who share a common desire to become maikos—apprentice geishas. When they join a maiko house, Kiyo is deemed unfit to be a maiko and ends up employed as a live-in cook. (From MAL)


Insert purchase links for physical: Amazon JP and CD Japan. (For my fellow Europeans, I bought the physical book from Verasia)
Insert purchase links for digital: Kobo and BookWalker.

Personal Opinion

I am actually surprised I haven’t seen this recommended anywhere, but it’s a story that has attracted me for a long time. I’m a big fan of slice-of-life stories, and also enjoy the cooking theme also present in this one. But what I’m mostly curious about are the geisha themes and the deeper look at this aspect of the Japanese culture, especially seen from the eyes of such young (well, teenager) characters. As the BBC, I feel like the casual dialogues and the cultural themes would really fit here.

Pros and Cons


  • Has furigana
  • Book seems quite easy to purchase
  • The story is centred around a quite interesting (in my opinion) topic in Japanese culture, and I feel like the narrators being young girls really gives it a fresh point of view
  • Volume 1 isn’t too long (~135 pages), and while there are a few longer or more text-heavy chapters, we might be able to complete it in ~6 weeks (or less?)
  • It also has an anime and netflix live-action adaptation!


  • Some pages can be quite text heavy (others will barely have text), which might make this book a bit harder than other picks. It’s also difficult to determine the difficulty level as its not in Natively
  • I haven’t read that much from the volume yet, but seeing the food and cultural themes, we might see some very specific vocabulary (not necessarily a con, right?)
  • It’s quite a long series with over >20 volumes, which some people might not be a fan of


First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all
  • 2 - Minimal effort
  • 3 - Moderate effort
  • 4 - Substantial effort
  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters