Memoirs of the geisha

Table of Content

The book report centers around a young girl named Chiyo who lives in a poor fishing village with her sister, father, and sick mother. Due to their desperate situation, her father sells both Chiyo and her sister into slavery at a renowned geisha house. However, Chiyo’s sister is taken to a different district, leaving her alone to serve as a maid for the notorious geisha Hatsumomo. Hatsumomo spreads false rumors and makes Chiyo’s life miserable. One day while running an errand for the geisha house, Chiyo falls and cries from the pain of her hardships at such a young age. Luckily, the Chairman of a wealthy electric company passes by with his business associates. He is captivated by Chiyo’s beauty and offers her comfort through kind words and a handkerchief. The Chairman remains in Chiyo’s thoughts as he is the only person who has shown kindness to her. Her sole focus becomes reuniting with him and getting to know him better. Eventually, the Chairman remembers Chiyo’s beauty and approaches well-known geisha Mameha about adopting Chiyo as her younger sister and training her to become a geisha.The wicked Mother of Chiyo’s household agrees to this arrangement, despite her belief that Chiyo will ultimately fail. Hatsumomo, out of jealousy, spreads lies about Sayuri (Chiyo’s new name as an apprentice geisha) in order to ruin her career. Mameha, Hatsumomo’s rival, introduces Sayuri to influential men in the hopes of capturing their hearts and attention. When Sayuri is grown-up, she encounters the Chairman for a second time and wonders if he remembers her. Nobu, the Chairman’s partner, develops feelings for Sayuri and desires her as his mistress (danna), but fails to attain this after years of trying. Throughout this time, Sayuri deeply loves the Chairman who seems to pay little attention to her. Eventually, they confess their mutual feelings and he becomes her danna – similar to a husband but not exactly. They travel on business trips to the United States and after some years, Sayuri moves from Gion, Japan to New York City where she becomes a teahouse owner and an artist-geisha. The misery in her life ends when the Chairman confesses his long-standing affection for her – the man she has always desired – and they finally are able to be together. They embark on travels together and settle in New York City where Sayuri opens a teahouse for men to converse with geishas. Although the Chairman passes away after Sayuri’s move, he continues living on in her heart.

3) a. The main character in this book is Sayuri, who is portrayed as a mostly believable heroine. Despite having irrational ambitions, this flaw adds depth to her character and makes her more relatable. Through her perspective, readers are exposed to the luxurious and lavish Gion district of Kyoto, which is known for its teahouses, theaters, narrow back alleys, ornate temples, and artists’ streets. Sayuri undergoes a transformation as she learns the demanding skills of a geisha, including dance, music, wearing kimono, intricate makeup and hairstyles, and the art of seduction to gain attention and financial support from men. However, the outbreak of World War II forces the geisha houses to close down. Sayuri finds refuge with Nobu, her admirer, and spends the rest of the war sewing hot-air balloons and parachutes. Despite a difficult upbringing due to the absence of parents, with the assistance of the Chairman and Mameha, Sayuri manages to overcome adversity and emerges as a dignified woman who captures the affection of many.

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The main problem in Japan is that some geishas will go to extreme lengths to damage the reputation of others in order to increase their own popularity and financial gain. Hatsumomo, a jealous geisha, sets out to ruin the life of Sayuri, who has no one and nothing in this world. However, Sayuri proves to be stronger than Hatsumomo and other geishas by working hard and earning the admiration of many people. Eventually, she is adopted as the daughter of the house she used to serve and live in. Despite enduring many years of suffering, Sayuri ultimately receives the kindness and respect she deserves.

c. Hatsumomo was the primary antagonist in the story, causing Sayuri significant suffering and exerting control over her life. At one point, she falsely accused Sayuri of stealing her bracelet, resulting in punishment and forcing Sayuri to pay for something she didn’t take. Additionally, Hatsumomo attempted to sabotage Sayuri’s career as a geisha. However, ultimately Hatsumomo’s actions led to her own downfall.

d. The climax occurred when Sayuri devised a plan for Nobu to catch her with the Minister because she did not want Nobu as her patron despite his kindness towards her. She hoped that this situation would change Nobu’s feelings for her. Unexpectedly, it was the Chairman who walked in on them instead of Nobu. This left Sayuri feeling a mix of emotions – fearing that the Chairman would now dislike her and believing any chance with him was lost. To her surprise though, this incident made the Chairman realize how deeply he cared for Sayuri and how essential she was to him. Three days later, he visited Sayuri and confessed his feelings which shocked her but brought them together after 18 years of uncertainty.

e. Resolution: After discovering Sayuri’s infidelity, Nobu cut all ties with her and completely removed her from his life. He never spoke her name again. He had previously warned her that betrayal would be unforgivable. As previously mentioned, the Chairman and Sayuri began a romantic relationship, with her becoming his mistress despite his marriage. They lived a content life together until the end.

f. Theme (deeper meaning): The underlying message of this memoir is that with determination and belief in oneself, anything is achievable in life. By never losing hope and always searching for a brighter future, one can eventually find what they are seeking. Sayuri, a former slave, exemplifies this by winning the heart of a man and working her way up to becoming one of Japan’s most successful geishas. Her perseverance ultimately leads her to be united with her beloved, who had been her source of motivation throughout her life. Sayuri’s story taught me to be brave and persistent in pursuing my dreams because I firmly believe that with enough passion, one can turn their aspirations into reality.

g. Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing can be observed through Hatsumomo’s continuous monitoring of Sayuri’s whereabouts during the evenings, hinting at her plotting to spread rumors about Sayuri in the teahouses she frequented. Additionally, the adoption of Sayuri by the Mother of the house implies that Hatsumomo, who had resided there longer, expected to be chosen instead. This foreshadowed the ensuing conflict between Hatsumomo and the Mother, ultimately leading to Hatsumomo’s expulsion from the house and abandonment onto the streets.During the crucial scene where Sayuri slept with the Minister, I noticed a hint of foreshadowing. As footsteps approached the building, the Minister dismissed them as mere bird chirping. However, I had a hunch that it could either be Nobu or the Chairman. And indeed, it turned out to be the Chairman.

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Memoirs of the geisha. (2019, Mar 01). Retrieved from

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