Chiyo's eyes have seen much heartache: Her mother on her deathbed. Her penniless and grieving father brokering a deal to sell his children. Her screaming sister being suddenly ripped from her arms because she's not deemed worth the investment. And this is all before Chiyo celebrates her 10th birthday. Despite the pain they've witnessed and wept, these eyes—with their rare grey-blue intensity—are Chiyo's only hope for the future. They give her a unique, stunning beauty and make two women who run one of the countless okiyas (homes for geishas) in Kyoto see her as a wise investment. Perhaps she could one day bring their house money. Perhaps, with the right training, she could become a geisha.
Soon Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) attends classes to learn how to dance, play instruments, sing, and pour tea, all with the flair and exactness of the geisha tradition. Though this new world is fascinating and colorful, Chiyo is dogged by thoughts of her sister and by Hatsumomo (Gong Li), the reigning geisha of their humble okiya. Hatsumomo is one of the most beautiful geishas in Kyoto, but her actions toward Chiyo are anything but pretty. She torments the young girl with false accusations that bring Chiyo brutal punishment from Mother (Kaori Momoi), the merciless woman who runs the okiya. Still, it's Hatsumomo's earnings that support all those in the house.
Mother finally tolerates Chiyo's seemingly bad behavior no longer when her attempt to run away with her sister, who's been forced into prostitution, fails. Mother pulls her out of geisha classes and forces Chiyo to be the okiya's servant. A life that has gotten darker and darker finally seems pitch black as Chiyo faces long grueling days of physically demanding chores and no hope ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
Memoirs of a Geisha
This slideshow is only available for subscribers.
Please log in or subscribe to view the slideshow.