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Gion no shimai (1936)

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.


Kenji Mizoguchi

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Cast overview:
Isuzu Yamada ... O-Mocha
Yôko Umemura Yôko Umemura ... Umekichi
Benkei Shiganoya Benkei Shiganoya ... Shimbei Furusawa
Eitarô Shindô ... Kudo, the drygoods merchant
Taizô Fukami Taizô Fukami ... Kimura
Fumio Okura Fumio Okura ... Jurakudo, the antiques dealer
Sakurako Iwama Sakurako Iwama ... Omasa Kudô
Namiko Kawasjima Namiko Kawasjima
Reiko Aoi Reiko Aoi
Shizuko Takizawa 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




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Release Date:

November 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gion no kyodai See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Daiichi Eiga See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Eion Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Daiichi Studio went into bankruptcy following the poor commercial results of the film. See more »


Referenced in Natsu no arashi!: Omoide ga ippai (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

An uninhibitedly feminist film !!!
12 January 2017 | by avik-basu1889See all my reviews

When reviewing Kenji Mizoguchi's 'Sisters of the Gion', the first and foremost thing that I have to talk about is the film's portrayal of exploited women and their sorry plight. For a film made in 1936, the film is astonishingly progressive. Mizoguchi leaves no stone unturned in showing the viewer how tough the life of a geisha was. The men whom we see engage with the sisters Omocha and Umekichi, though played by different actors are made to look very similar appearance wise and I think that was a specific choice on the part of Mizoguchi. Mizoguchi's approach to telling this story has a distinct boldness to it with a hopelessness simmering underneath. The protagonist Omocha is not a submissive character whose pain and suffering is supposed to convey the message. Instead, she is a feisty pragmatic rebel who played the game the way it is without being obstructed by any sense of morality. The feminist message is supposed to be conveyed by the fact that even fighting the system isn't enough to escape the exploitation and the abuse. These women would still continue to be treated as commodities.

What struck me about Mizoguchi's direction and visual style is his meticulous use of space in a particular frame. He sits on a frame, there is very minimal editing and he uses tracking shots quite a bit. He uses the 'frame within a frame' composition(also found in Renoir's films) quite a bit by placing characters in the background while others being in the foreground and pretty much each and every one of these visual choices serves a thematic purpose, be it conveying the difference in mindsets of Omocha and Umekichi or showing a man being lured in by Omocha's manipulation,etc. Another thing I noticed is Mizoguchi's reluctance in using too many close-ups. The close-ups in the film are used very sparsely and economically.

Due to its runtime, the film is a little light on character development or backstory, but the nuanced nature of using visuals to tell a story really impressed me. It is clear in its agenda and Mizoguchi is bold enough to express his ideas with conviction.

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