Sayuri admits to the man she loves at the end of the film, “Every step I have taken has been to bring me closer to you.” She shows a conscious, intuitive process even in childhood, in a specific direction, when she meets the Chariman, falls in love with him because of his kindness in buying her a cherry ice treat, and then “realizes that being a geisha is a stepping stone for something else, a place in his world.” She saw how if she became a geisha, she could be with him, be equal to him, and attract him, and devoted her entire life, being, and focus to that task, from that day forward. Many of her internal musings are full of metaphors – stories about water and how it flows, how she tried to run away like a tiger from its cage, and how sumo wrestlers are a “dance between giants…. I understand why you like them; you cannot judge a man’s power by his appearance alone.” The latter is an incredible insight into the general, whose face is half scarred from battle, that wins her over to him. Sayuri is openly emotional and reactive, running away in an attempt to find her sister, and even unwisely goading another geisha in public in an attempt to belittle her and even the score (which causes this woman to abuse her later in the day). Though distracted by her goal of attracting the Chairman, Sayuri manages to charm and win over the general and make other men like her, even flattering them for others’ sake when necessary. She doesn’t like to be treated as a piece of property, but becomes a geisha once more after the war in the hopes of helping the Chairman restart his business ventures by attracting American investors. When she discovers the general desires her, but could not stand it if she was impure, she tries to make it known that she isn’t pure, to thwart him without directly admitting to him that she doesn’t want his advances and doesn’t love him. She is a careful thinker most of the time, and when betrayed by Pumpkin, in tears demands to know her reason why, as if understanding it will help her forgive, or at least comprehend how her plans are all ruined. Sayuri struggles to adopt her inferior Se. She is clumsy at first as a geisha, does not realize a tea pot has no tea in it just by holding it (thus causing herself some embarrassment when she tries to pour out of it), and often falls off her high shoes. Whenever she does anything impulsively, it backfires – an attempt to escape the house over the rooftops hurts her badly and winds up costing the house money for a doctor. An impulsive decision to sleep with an American, in order to make the general discover them and fall out of love with her, almost ruins her overall plan to attract the Chairman.

Enneagram: 3w4 sx/sp

Sayuri decides even as a little girl the only way to get the love she wants is to achieve enough success as a geisha that she can advance herself and be available to the man who has attracted her attention. She is willing to do whatever it takes, and become whomever she has to become, to achieve that goal, and works steadily at remaking herself into a model of success, virtue, and worth. She is deeply upset when a rival calls her worthless, and with tears in her eyes, insists, “I am not worthless!” She skillfully handles even bad situations, finding appropriate and delicate ways to rebuff inappropriate advances, begging people not to be unkind to her, and putting a lot of hard work into her presentation. She is pleased to achieve success, though she doesn’t want to hurt Pumpkin in the process. Sayuri’s 4 wing is a bit distant and reserved, moody and self-conscious, emotional and focused on what life has done to her, but she always persists in doing her best, regardless.

Other Characters:

Since they have limited screen time, I’ll just assess them here.

The Chairman [ENFJ 2w1]

The Chairman is a man of great compassion, who stops where he’s going when he sees a small child weeping on the bridge. He tells her it’s too beautiful a day to be in tears, and cheers her up by saying kind things to her, offering her hope for her future, and then purchasing her a sweet treat. He sees potential in her life where no one else does, and hires Mameha to make her into a geisha, so that she can have a bright future ahead of her. Though he loves Sayuri, out of respect for the general’s feelings, he stands aside and allows him to pursue her, because he thinks that would be best for his dearest friend (abdicating his own feelings, to do what he feels is right for another person). He is principled, hard-working, but also ashamed when he feels he has asked Sayuri to compromise her honor in winning over the Americans. Rather than hold her actions against her, he blames himself for it.

Mameha [ISTJ 1w9]

Mameha is a calm, collected woman who is highly professional in what she does. She urges Sayuri to think about her future, and undertakes her training with the intention of having someone she likes and who owes her in charge of a rival geisha house, so she won’t get pitted against an unstable rival. She logically reasons her way through things, pointing out that Pumpkin is no threat, that they should outwit their enemies, that Sayuri should put aside her personal feelings and do what is necessary to achieve success, even if it means not selling her virginity to the Chairman. She comes up with successful plans and executes them, but also reads things on a surface level at times. She assumes the baron has raped or seduced Sayuri and that she is now “worthless” as a geisha, because “I know the baron.” She’s only convinced otherwise when the baron bids for Sayuri at the virginity auction, since “No man would pay so much for something he has already taken.” She admits that she never allowed herself to develop feelings for the baron, and urges Sayuri to live within the rules of being a geisha. She is principled, unruffled by conflict, and ambitious, always keeping her cool in public and in private.

Pumpkin [ISFP 9w8]

Pumpkin is an emotional woman, easily insulted but also ambitious, who doesn’t want Sayuri to run away because “you’ll ruin your chances… and mine too!” She is angry and upset when “Mother” turns over the geisha house to Sayuri rather than her, because she felt she earned it, and waits a decade to get her revenge. When Sayuri demands to know why she would do such a thing, and be so mean, Pumpkin says, “So you would know how it felt to have the thing you cared most about in all the world taken away from you.” She is most herself when allowed to party as a prostitute, during and after the war—Pumpkin loves to bathe with men in saunas, drink herself into intoxication, wear American fashion, and have a grand old time. She sees a chance to hurt Sayuri and doesn’t hesitate to take it, but she does so indirectly and passive-aggressively. She avoids conflict and often drops her head or hides whenever people fight around her, but also has no remorse in getting revenge, and can be somewhat hedonistic as an adult.