Memoirs of a Geisha (film)

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Memoirs of a Geisha is a 2005 film about Sayuri, a geisha working in "Miyako" (referring to Kyoto, not Miyako City) before and after World War II.

Directed by Rob Marshall. Written by Arthur Golden and Robin Swicord.

Narrator (Sayuri as an elderly woman)[edit]

  • A story like mine should never be told. For my world is as forbidden as it is fragile; without its mysteries it cannot survive.
  • At the temple, there is a poem called "Loss", carved into the stone. It has three words...but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read "Loss"... Only feel it.
  • The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves... Until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.
  • It is not for Geisha to want. It is not for Geisha to feel. Geisha is an artist of the floating world. She dances. She sings. She entertains you. Whatever you want. The rest is shadows. The rest is secret.
  • My mother always said my sister Satsu was like wood; as rooted to the earth as a sakura tree. But she told me I was like water. Water can carve its way even through stone...and when trapped, water makes a new path...
  • Your honorable sister says, "Cut your leg," you cut your leg. She says, "Follow me," you follow her. My life had turned into a game, and only she knew the rules.
  • A year without news, except news of death. Rumors of cities evaporating into clouds of smoke. And then another year, and another. Nothing. Nothing.
  • I could be her. Were we so different? She loved once. She hoped once. I might be looking into my own future. Until the real future came falling from the air... [referring to the war]
  • Now I understood the thing I´d overlooked; the point wasn't to become a geisha but to be one. To become a geisha...well, that was hardly a purpose in life. But to be a geisha... I could see it now as a stepping-stone to something else.
  • To a man, Geisha can only be half a wife. We are the wives of nightfall. And yet to learn of kindness, after so much unkindness... To understand that a little girl with more courage than she knew, would find that her prayers were answered...can that not be called happiness? After all, these are not the memoirs of an empress, nor of a queen. These are memoirs of another kind.


  • Remember Chiyo, geisha are not courtesans, and we're not wives. We sell our skills, not our bodies. We create another secret world, a place only of beauty. The very word "geisha" means artist, and to be a geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art.
  • You cannot call yourself a true geisha until you can stop a man in his tracks with a single look.
  • We don't become geisha to pursue our own destinies. We become geisha because we have no choice.
  • No man would ever bid so much for a thing he had already taken.
  • Water is always in such a hurry. Perhaps it is just as well - we have no time to lose.


  • None of us find as much kindness in this life, as we should.
  • [When he first meets Chiyo by the river] Where did you come by such surprising eyes?
  • Smile for me, won't you?
  • I owe Nobu my life. So, when I saw he had a chance at happiness with you, I stood aside and... But I cannot any longer. I hope it is not too late.

President Nobu[edit]

  • Three things matter in life... sumo, business, and war. Understand one, you know them all. But why should a Geisha care? You spend your time plucking strings and dancing.
  • I do not like things held up before me that I cannot have.


  • Not every geisha uses that kind of currency.
  • I humbly beg to differ. What is sumo but a dance between giants? What is business but a dance between companies? I would like to know about every kind of dance.
  • I see now why you like Sumo, you can never judge a man's power by his appearance alone.
  • I want a life that is mine!
  • Can't you see? Every step I have taken, since I was that child on the bridge has been to bring myself closer to you.
  • The heart dies a slow death. Shedding each hope like leaves. Until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.


  • Besides, who wants a plum when someone has already had a bite?
  • A pity she still stinks of fish.
  • Why can't you be quiet?
  • Stay out of my room. I can't have you touching my things.
  • I can just hear my General now. "Why Hatsumomo. You used to smell of jasmine... What's this new perfume...? Blowfish?"
  • At least you don't smell as bad as your sister. You know, she was here.
  • You're just jealous somebody cares for me!
  • It's that kimono. She remembers how you destroyed it. Now, she wants to get even.
  • I shall destroy you.
  • Why Sayuri...look what I found. You've been hiding your love for a long time... The sacrifice every geisha must make!
  • [as Mother mocks her relationship with Koichi, about to call her a common prostitute] Don't say it!


  • Doctor is very expensive. You seem to be racking up quite a debt. Kimono, destroyed. Geisha school, rice and pickles, train ticket, Mr. Bekku, all of this, on top of the money I paid Mr. Tanaka. And for what? And now I hear your sister has run away! She didn't wait for you, and now she can never come back. You must forget you ever had a sister. We are your only family now.
  • These country girls. Too late to send her back now.
  • [To Hatsumomo] Don't exaggerate! You have never even found a danna. You chose that no-good Koichi. Sneaking through your window at all hours of the night. Not like a geisha, like a common prostitute.
  • [On the phone] Do you think I am a sucker?
  • Hurry up! [chuckling] You're not making money standing there gawking at yourself!


  • Only reason Mother tolerates Hatsumomo is because she brings in good money. Never forget, it is Hatsumomo who pays for your supper, the clothes on your back. By the time she was twenty, she had already earned back her purchase price! Unheard of! She has been the talk of the hanamachi ever since.
  • Geisha needs an elegant wardrobe, just like an artist needs ink. If she is not properly dressed, then she is not a true geisha.
  • [Sparking flint behind Sayuri] For luck!


Chairman: He would never tell you himself; he is far too modest. We were fighting in Manchuria together. There was an explosion. He protected me from the worst of it. As you might imagine, I owe him quite a debt. Nobu has taught me a great deal - patience, for example. And I in turn have tried to teach him: you have to savor life while you can.
Sayuri: The lesson of the cherry blossom!
Chairman: That is why Nobu likes you. We must not expect happiness, Sayuri. It is not something we deserve. When life goes well, it is a sudden gift; it cannot last forever!

Hatsumomo: "Sayuri"... A name as sweet as she is! I'm afraid these days even a common chambermaid can call herself a geisha. So, it's nice to see such a sincere young maiko, isn't it?
General: [laughing]: Why yes!
Mameha: [to Sayuri]: Surely you would like to thank Hatsumomo for her gracious compliments?
Sayuri: There is so much I would like to say to Hatsumomo.
Hatsumomo: Sometimes, the smartest remark is silence.
Sayuri: What better advice to follow than your own?
Mameha: Sayuri...
Hatsumomo: Ah, a maiko. I was one myself, once.
Sayuri: Of course... But it's been such a very long, long...long, long...time. [Everyone laughs]

Baron: If there had been any tea in that pot, I believe Sayuri would have gotten it out! [other men laugh]
Mameha: Don't tease, Baron. It is her very first time.

Mameha: Now that your beloved Granny is gone, you have no need for a maid.
Mother: I would never question the great Mameha. could choose anyone in the hanamachi!
Mameha: [laughing]: You flatter me.
Mother: I'd give you my Pumpkin, if she were not already tied to Hatsumomo.
Mameha: Please, I'd never dream of asking.
Mother: Besides, I could always sell Chiyo to Mrs. Tatsuyo...
Mameha: With your eye for beauty and nose for talent, surely you can see what a terrible waste that would be?
Mother: If you were not the kind-hearted geisha I know you to be, then I might think you were scheming against Hatsumomo!
Mameha: Then I'm grateful that you don't have a suspicious mind, Mrs. Nitta.
Mother: Perhaps you could pique my interest with...
Mameha: Yes?
Mother: Your offer.
Mameha: [pauses]: I will cover Chiyo's schooling, and all of her expenses, until after her debut.
Mother: Now I am certain, you are teasing.
Mameha: I could not be more sincere. If Chiyo has not repaid her debt within six months after her debut...
Mother: Impossible! Too little time!
Mameha: Then I will pay you twice over.
Mother: What...? [pause] geisha could ever...!
Mameha: I am sure you will not object to one trivial condition?
Mother: Yes?
Mameha: If Chiyo erases her debt in the time allowed... you will have no part in her future earnings.

Mother: It's too good to be true. Mameha is up to something.
Auntie: She isn't in it for the money, that much is for certain. Rumor has it, ever since the prime minister bought her mizuage, she's been rich!
Mother: That so? Absurd to think she noticed Chiyo!
Hatsumomo: It's that kimono. She remembers how you destroyed it. Now, she wants to get even.
Mother: An odd picture, isn't it? Hatsumomo sweeping to teahouse after teahouse with our little Pumpkin, and Mameha with our maid!


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