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Late Chrysanthemums is a 1954 Toho film which follows four retired geisha and their struggles to make ends meet in post World War II Japan.

It is also a short story by female author Fumiko Hayashi, on which the Toho film is based. The title of the story is "Bangiku," published in 1948. ("Kiku" or "giku" means "chrysanthemum" in the Japanese Language. The story has been translated into english by Lane Dunlop and is available in the anthology "A Late Chrysanthemum" Twenty-one Stories from the Japanese." isbn 0865472297 San Franciscomarker:North Point Press 1986. The short story and the film are not exactly the same.

Plot

Kin, the first of the geisha, is consumed by the idea of wealth. As a money-lender, she is an embittered businesswoman who is insistent upon being repaid by her former geisha sisters, Tamae and Tomi. She is the love interest of a former soldier in Manchuria, Mr. Seki, who was sent to jail after trying to commit suicide with Kin many years ago. He returns to try and borrow money from her, but is quickly turned away. In the end, he is sent back to jail for a money-related crime. Kin then becomes excited when she hears that Mr. Tabe, her former danna (patron) and lover, is returning. However, she becomes furious after realizing that he does not love her, but rather just wants to borrow her money as well. She kicks him out and burns his photograph to erase his memory. In the end, she leaves the city on a search for property to buy. "Kin" in Japanese is a homonym for gold.

Tamae and Tomi, both former geisha, live together. Tamae is the most beautiful of the woman, but is plagued by migraines. As a result, she is unable to work as frequently as she would like as a housekeeper in a hotel. She is troubled by her son Kiyoshi’s relationship with an older mistress. Yet, his new job allows her to repay her debts to Kin. Still, Tamae is saddened when her son decides to move away to Hokkaido.

Tomi is a gambler who has not taken good care of herself after her days as a geisha. She laments her daughter Sachiko’s upcoming marriage to an older man and tries to persuade her against it. Tomi is also indebted to Kin and is unable to repay this money as a result of her addiction to gambling, specifically horserace betting and pachinko.

The last of the four geisha is Nobu. She and her husband own a restaurant, which is frequented by the other women.

Although these women once lived seemingly glamorous lives as geisha, the war brought about changes in Japan, which negatively impacted “the floating world.” The movie “Bangiku: Late Chrysanthemums” reveals four distinct stories about life after being a geisha.

Cast

  • Kin: Haruko Sugimura
  • Nobu: Sadako Sawamura
  • Tamae: Chikako Hosokawa
  • Tomi: Yuko Mochizuki
  • Tabe: Ken Uehara
  • Kiyoshi: Hiroshi Koizumi
  • Sachiko: Ineko Arima
  • Seki: Bontaro Miake
  • Sentaro: Sonosuke Sawamura
  • Itaya: Daisuke Katō


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