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Sisters of the Gion (1936)
"Gion no shimai" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  November 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,316 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 26 critic

Two geisha sisters lead a hard life in the Gion district of Kyoto. After one of them feels obliged to support a bankrupt businessman, the other sister sets up various schemes to get rid of him.


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Credited cast:
Isuzu Yamada ...
Benkei Shiganoya ...
Shimbei Furusawa
Eitarô Shindô ...
Kudo, the drygoods merchant
Taizô Fukami ...
Fumio Okura ...
Jurakudo, the antiques dealer
Namiko Kawajima
Reiko Aoi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sakurako Iwama ...
Omasa Kudô
Shizuko Takizawa


Umekichi, a geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto, feels obliged to help her lover Furusawa when he asks to stay with her after becoming bankrupt and leaving his wife. However her younger sister Omocha tells her she is wasting her time and money on a loser. She thinks that they should both find wealthy patrons to support them. Omocha therefore tries various schemes to get rid of Furusawa, and set themselves up with better patrons. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »




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Release Date:

November 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gion no kyodai  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Eion Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

I know this must be considered a classic, but I didn't particularly enjoy it---though it was very well made.
16 February 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Sisters of Gion" is a Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It apparently must be very well thought of, as it's part of a set of Mizoguchi films in a DVD set from the artsy Criterion Collection. While I could see the artistry of the cinematography, I wasn't super-impressed by the story. It left me a bit flat.

When the film begins, it looks a bit like a Yasujirô Ozu film because the camera in set at a level about that of a person sitting on the floor. And, like Ozu, the camera lens does not move back or forth.--it's a stationary box. But, unlike Ozu, while the cameraman does not move the camera, it does move on a track--making for an incredibly interesting opening shot. In fact, the film is full of interesting shots--with unusual angles, composition and depth. It's almost like the camera is a tiny one that is peeking into rooms--and it's very nice--probably the nicest looking Japanese cinematography from this era that I have seen.

Now the story of "Sisters of Gion" ("Gion No Shimai") is not particularly enjoyable--mostly because the folks in it aren't particularly likable and the story is only mildly interesting--except, perhaps, to someone wanting insight into the role of women in 1930s Japan. This aspect of the film is unusual--how one woman embraces power and her sister embraces conventionality and kindness. It's obvious the film was not meant as a feel-good film but a sad portait of the lives of women in the lower classes.

A man has just lost his business and moves in with the geisha he used to sponsor. You might have felt sorry for him, but in the process he left his family and seemed very self-involved. This geisha he goes to is a very nice and dutiful woman, as she is under no obligation to take him in but she does. However, her younger sister, also a geisha, is rather conniving and VERY practical. She will get a wealthy sponsor one way or another. This, ultimately, leads to a rather interesting relationship with Mr. Kimura--but you'll have to see that for yourself. I'd say that the acting, camera-work and direction were good. But I just didn't care a lot for the characters or their problems--though the story was darkly compelling and provocative.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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