‘Kimono Mom’ Introduces Japanese Home Cooking to the World; Former Maiko from Kyoto Posts Weekly Videos to Youtube

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Moe, a Japanese cooking YouTuber, stands in a kitchen.

Moe, 33, a former maiko and geiko, shows how to cook Japanese home-style dishes in English on her YouTube channel, “Kimono Mom.” Once worried about raising her child on her own, she started uploading videos, which she learned how to do through trial and error. Today, she is one of the leading figures in introducing the appeal of Japanese cuisine to the world.

Born in Kyoto, she worked as a maiko and geisha for six years after dropping out of high school. But she quit the job when she got married and moved to Tokyo. She started posting videos on YouTube in February 2020, after getting divorced and remarried. She has about 5.5 million followers on various social media platforms, such as Instagram, as of January this year.

Following are excerpts from an interview with her:

6 years in world of geisha

I film myself cooking in a kimono and kappogi apron and release videos on YouTube once a week. I sometimes cook oden stew with my 4-year-old daughter or pound steamed rice to make mochi with my whole family. So far, I’ve filmed about 490 videos. Ninety-seven percent of my YouTube viewers are from overseas, so many comments are written in English and Spanish. I feel like I have friends from all over the world while staying in my own kitchen.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Moe speaks during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.

I wear a kimono in the videos because I used to work as a maiko and geisha. I was attracted to the hanamachi, or geisha quarter, as it cherishes history and tradition. I stayed in that world for six years until I retired after my first marriage at the age of 21.

Lonely parenting

Five years ago, I remarried my current husband, and our daughter was born the following year. At the time, my husband was running a restaurant. He had no days off and would come home before dawn. So I took care of my daughter all on my own when she was born. Although I wanted to work, my daughter wasn’t admitted to a nursery school. I had no one to talk to except my husband, and day by day I felt as if I had lost all connection with society.

A turning point came when my daughter was about nine months old. An American YouTuber covered me to show how a Japanese mother spends her day. I thought I could do the same and post videos while raising my child at home, so the next day I started learning how to shoot and edit videos on my smartphone.

What I’m sharing is Japanese home cooking. My mother’s cooking cheered me up when I was facing difficulties. I also want my daughter to know what she grew up eating in the future.

Courtesy of Moe
Moe cooks with her daughter.

The first video I released was about how I cooked deep-fried stuffed lotus root for dinner. It took me a month to edit it, using the time when my daughter was sleeping.

When my daughter cried while I was filming, I would stop to comfort her and sometimes carried her on my back. I released such scenes just as they were. Then I began receiving messages from not only those interested in cooking but also mothers around the world who were also raising children. It made me feel like I wasn’t the only one struggling with child-rearing.

Struck by viewer’s words

In the early days in this career, I thanked viewers for their comments even though I was “just a housewife.” Then, one viewer got offended by me putting down the role of a housewife and told me not to say that.

Courtesy of Moe
Moe with her husband and daughter

I was struck by those words. I thought very little of myself, as I had not worked after having my daughter. I came to realize that I should take pride in being a mother and deliver messages that will cheer up the people around me, for the sake of my daughter and those who look forward to my videos.

I also started an online shopping business in 2022 to help more people overseas enjoy Japanese home cooking. In addition to earthenware pots, which allow people to cook rice without fine-tuning the heat, I also sell Japanese sauce that can be used by people with food restrictions, such as vegans and those on a gluten-free diet.

I want to help create a space where people from different countries and cultures can enjoy Japanese home cooking.