IMDb > Sisters of the Gion (1936)

Sisters of the Gion (1936) More at IMDbPro »Gion no shimai (original title)

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Release Date:
November 1979 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Mature movie-making See more (14 total) »


  (in credits order)
Isuzu Yamada ... O-Mocha

Yôko Umemura ... Umekichi
Benkei Shiganoya ... Shimbei Furusawa
Eitarô Shindô ... Kudo, the drygoods merchant
Taizô Fukami ... Kimura
Fumio Okura ... Jurakudo, the antiques dealer
Namiko Kawajima
Reiko Aoi
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sakurako Iwama ... Omasa Kudô
Shizuko Takizawa

Directed by
Kenji Mizoguchi 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Aleksandr Kuprin  novel "The Pit"
Kenji Mizoguchi 
Yoshikata Yoda 

Produced by
Masaichi Nagata .... producer
Cinematography by
Minoru Miki 
Film Editing by
Tatsuko Sakane 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Kazuo Mori .... second assistant director
Akira Sakamoto .... third assistant director
Kôichi Takagi .... assistant director
Sound Department
Hisashi Kase .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Kazuo Kishi .... gaffer

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Gion no shimai" - Japan (original title)
See more »
69 min | Argentina:95 min | USA:95 min | Japan:96 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Eion Sound System)

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Mature movie-making, 4 April 2008
Author: stalker vogler from Xanadu

I won't hide this was a huge surprise for me because it is the first pre-WWII Japanese movie I ever lay eyes on. And it confirmed the fact that there is something as a Japanese school of movie-making with roots in the past. First of all Gion no shimai treats a bundle of themes in a very skilled manner and with a limited amount of time. The main theme is the conflict between two ways of seeing the world which were deep rooted in the Japan of that period, a country subject to many transformations: the fight between loyalty to traditional values and personal interests. This fight is instantiated in the conflict between two sisters, which for what I know about geisha are not actually sisters but the older one helped the younger to become herself a geisha. The older sister is loyal to a man who supported her in her youth, a shopkeeper who is now broke and helps him on account of loyalty not because there was something in it for her. The younger sister is appalled both by the man who resorts to geisha for help and by her sister's behavior, very unsound in the insecure environment of the age when geisha with no patron had a hard time. What is even more interesting than the main theme is that Mizoguchi chooses women, geisha as representative women of Japan, as main characters. He was for this matter ahead of his time, more ahead even of Kurosawa years later, the latter always unable to present a compelling woman other than with over the top acting.

The two actresses here are exceptional at conveying the drama of being trapped in a man's world where geisha are toys for men's pleasure. They are unable to change their situation not because of personal fault but because the tension between old and new, between the traditional Jpan and the emerging industrial Jpana is not something they can control. The younger sisters opposition and departure from her sister is in the end pointless because she tries to fight the war of a whole culture trying to adapt in a new world.

Many things can be seen in this little gem, from the beginning tracking shot filled with suspense to the outside takes, especially those with the city by night.

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