Hatsumomo is one of the most successful geishas in the city because she knows how to present herself as attractive and desirable to men. She can read and respond to them on a physical level, while also at times being manipulative and petty. Such as when she insults Sayuri in public without appearing to do so, by making underhanded remarks about her, and then cannot take the same in return (she later beats up Sayuri and pulls her hair). She steals a kimono from her rival, blackmails Sayuri into ruining it, then has the little girl deliver it back to its owner, resulting in Sayuri being beaten as a thief. She makes all emotional decisions, such as when she deliberately shows up wherever Sayuri goes to sabotage her during her training and debut, when she sets her up with the baron to be assaulted (knowing it will make people less inclined to pay much for her virginity), and when she doesn’t bother to try to steal the general’s attention away from her based on his appearance alone (he isn’t attractive enough for her taste, so she lets Sayuri have him). Hatsumomo has no interest in anyone but herself. She tells Sayuri her beating was her fault for getting caught, rather than admitting that she is to blame. She sees Sayuri as a rival because of her beautiful blue eyes and goes out of her way to make her miserable, by pointing out that she stinks, and that anything she touches in her room, Hatsumomo cannot now use. She repeatedly does mean things to her just to get a rise out of her, and when Sayuri wins the spot of top geisha in the house, Hatsumomo is angry because “You promised that to Pumpkin!” (Whom she can control.) When Sayuri’s sister comes looking for her, she withholds this information to use it as blackmail to get Sayuri to do whatever she wants. She wants the right to love and be loved, physically, so she ignores their rules about taking lovers. Hatsumomo  isn’t good at long term thinking; she lets her bad temper make most of her decisions. She destroys her own source of stability and revenue when she decides to burn down the place where she lives, because she’s no longer the top geisha. Rather than help Sayuri stop the fire, after they have a fight that overturns a lamp, she starts several more and flounces off into the night, so “done” with everything.

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Mother says Hatsumomo will never inherit the geisha house, because of her “foul temper.” She starts fights with other geishas for no real reason other than her ego, and doesn’t mind cheating, blackmailing, and sabotaging them in order to get ahead. She spreads nasty rumors about Sayuri to destroy her chances at popularity, because she’s jealous of her impression on others. She beats up the little girl, shoves her around, throws powder in her face, and gets her whipped. At other times, Hatsumomo goes out and gets rip-roaring drunk. She doesn’t see any reason not to indulge her love/lust for a man, and sneaks him onto geisha grounds to conduct elicit trysts. She would rather burn down her own home than take second place in it. She’s somewhat hedonistic, aggressive, and temperamental, doesn’t shy away from conflict, and won’t admit that she’s done anything wrong or that anything is her fault.