Hatsumomo is the only resident geisha of the Nitta Okiya upon Chiyo's arrival. When she first notices her, she is astounded by her beauty, but soon after she sees her true character. She bosses everyone in the okiya around, and finds the girl to be a potential rival. With Chiyo's natural beauty and rare blue-grey eyes, she's a threat to the older geisha's status, since it would put Mother in excellent position to throw her out. As a result, throughout the plot, Hatsumomo makes several attempts to get Chiyo either restricted from being a geisha, or banned from Gion all together. She and her friend, Korin, convinces her to paint on another geisha's (Mameha) kimono if she wanted to know where her sister was being housed at. However, Auntie even warns Chiyo against trusting the older geisha, even if she helps her because she'd ruin her in a second. After she was half-heartedly beaten by a reluctant Auntie, Hatsumomo finally tells her that Satsu is a prostitute in the Miyagawa-Cho district, under the brothel house of Tatsuyo. She had a boyfriend named Koichi and loses him when Chiyo catches them having sex. Koichi is insulted and breaks off all ties with her by not coming back. Hatsumomo hides money in her kimono, angered by what she did. Then, she grabs Chiyo's head and lies to Mother by telling her that she stole her emerald brooch with the intent of selling it to a businessman. Unfortunately for her, Mrs.Nitta(Mother) isn't fooled and Chiyo tells her the truth. After she happily charges the girl for stealing the brooch, she orders Auntie to take her arms and she searched her neither regions. In the book, she didn't bother to struggle as she searched her knowing she could be in trouble. Whereas in the movie, she struggle against Auntie as she searched her neither regions. Mother finds semen on it, slaps Hatsumomo across the face and bans her from seeing Koichi again by reminding her that geishas are never free to love. As revenge for losing her boyfriend, she also convinces Chiyo to run away, where she breaks her arm and is caught, resulting in her banishment from learning the trades of a geisha, pleasing Hatsumomo to no end.
In the book version, Mameha reveals to a 12-year-old Chiyo(15 in the movie and still a maid) that Hatsumomo can't tolerate competition because of her natural beauty with her rare blue-grey eyes. She mentions to her about what her rival did to her childhood friend, Hatsuoki, when she was trained under the great Tomihatsu. Mameha also reveals that Hatsumomo is far more threatened by Chiyo than Pumpkin because she unlike her friend can find ways to drive her out. Whereas, Pumpkin is considered no threat to her due to her slow, clumsiness and would secure her position. She also reveals that despite her rival's beauty, popularity and talent, she had failed to secure a wealthy danna of her own. This was because, a long time ago, Hatsumomo made the terrible mistake of angering the mistress of the Mizuki Teahouse(her prime). As a result of her mistake, she could never have a patron as her danna. She could've requested for one from the other teahouse, but they'd refuse her request as respect to the Mizuki mistress.
Later on, Mameha takes in Chiyo as an apprentice geisha and her younger sister, changing her name to Sayuri. Meanwhile, Hatsumomo bans Pumpkin from ever speaking to her friend and changes her name to Hatsumiyo. Unfortunately for her, everyone else keeps calling her Pumpkin when her younger sister's geisha name Hatsumiyo, failed to impress. She follows both of them to whatever parties they attend in an attempt to ruin her reputation. That attempt was at first successful because she wanted her gone the same way she did to her rival and sister, Hatsuoki. That was until Sayuri's popularity and successful mizuage got her adopted instead of Pumpkin. This horrified and angered Hatsumomo to no end as she tried to convince Mother to go through with the original plan. She refuses and warns the older geisha not to sabotage her daughter's career and will charge her a lot of money if she even thinks about it, angering her. Hatsumomo realizes that not only Sayuri's position as Mother's daughter and heir to the Nitta Okiya puts her out of her reach permanently, but she was in even more danger of being thrown out the okiya and banned from Gion all together.
Also in the book, days after her mizuage and adoption, Sayuri was a sucessful geisha with her own clientele of businessmen wanting to be her danna, even having one in General Tottori. Meanwhile, Hatsumomo's own status and reputation as a geisha has declined rapidly to the point that she tries to save her own career and Pumpkin's. She accuses Sayuri of keeping a journal in her room, but it backfires in her face right way when her rival finds her emerald brooch. Immediately, Mother charges Hatsumomo instead for plotting to ruin her daughter's career and trying to cost the Nitta Okiya money, angering and humiliating her further. Becasue of Mrs.Nitta(Mother)'s embarrassing charges, Hatsumomo was forced to leave much earlier to her parties in order to avoid having both of her rivals following her around and causing her to give into her insanity by driving her towards her breaking point(the same way she did to them at the beginning of Sayuri's career). She accuses them for stalking her and she ready to strike her other rival, until Sayuri screamed. After everyone crowds around Mameha, asking her if she was all right, this caused the older geisha to leave right away. She feigns concern for her rival by telling everyone that a doctor has declared Hatsumomo mentally unstabled. There was no doctor around, but everyone believed her and started spreading rumors that a doctor has declared her(Hatsumomo) mentally unstabled. Later on at a party, Hatsumomo gave into her anger by biting and viciously attacking her friend, a homosexual Kabuki actor, for kissing Mameha in front of her and making her look like a complete fool.
In the moive, as a final blow to her, the older geisha attempts to burn the Chairman's handkerchief, and in a struggle between herself and her rival for its possession, the candle that Hatsumomo had planned to use to burn it falls and starts a fire that soon envelops the whole room. As Sayuri and Mother both try to put out the fire, she exits the room and takes another candle from the wall and throws it to the ground to destroy the okiya, throwing alcohol onto the fire.
The next day in both versions, Mother throws Hatsumomo out of the Nitta Okiya and bans her from Gion permanently. In the book version, she was only wearing a simple white robe that Mother given her and her hair was loose. She was carrying all her belonging in a bag and left without saying goodbye to anyone. In the move, she was wearing the same black kimono when she caused the fire, but her belongings now belonged to Sayuri. Also in both versions, she's never involved in the plot again, even after World War II. Although many rumors in Gion have specualted that Hatsumomo did survive the war and that she's currently working as a prostitute in the Miyagawa-Cho district(the same one Satsu was sold to under the brothel home of Tatsuyo) because no other okiya will take her in as their prime geisha. However, it was implied that she was successful in drinking herself to death with too much sake intake during the war.