Memoirs of a Geisha

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Satsu Sakamoto Character Analysis

Sayuri’s beloved older sister. Since Satsu is not as pretty or as clever as Sayuri, Mr. Tanaka sells her to a brothel instead of an okiya. Satsu despises life as a prostitute, so she runs away to her home village where she reunites with her boyfriend. Sayuri never learns where her life leads her.

Satsu Sakamoto Quotes in Memoirs of a Geisha

The Memoirs of a Geisha quotes below are all either spoken by Satsu Sakamoto or refer to Satsu Sakamoto . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Memoirs of a Geisha published in 1999.
Chapter 3 Quotes

I found myself wondering if my sister was standing before some other cruel woman, in another house somewhere in this horrible city. And I had a sudden image in my mind of my poor, sick mother propping herself on one elbow upon her futon and looking around to see where we had gone. I didn't want Mother to see me crying, but the tears pooled in my eyes before I could think of how to stop them.

Related Characters: Sayuri Nitta / Chiyo Sakamoto (speaker), Mother/Ms. Nitta , Satsu Sakamoto , Mrs. Sakamoto
Related Symbols: Sayuri’s Eyes
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Sayuri (at this point still Chiyo) has been sent to work under Mother at an okiya, a place for training geishas. As she looks at her "Mother"--not really a mother at all, just a supervisor--Chiyo finds herself thinking of her real family: her sick mother and her sister, who has also been "sold." For the time being, Chiyo has no real control over her own feelings: she's just a little girl, and she can't stop herself from crying.

The passage is moving, but it also conveys an important point: Chiyo is a novice in the world of geishas, and the world of appearances. To become a geisha, Chiyo will have to learn how to control her true feelings, suppressing disgust and contempt when such emotions aren't useful. By the same token, she'll have to turn her back on her biological family in order to focus on her surrogate family at the okiya, as well as the men she encounters as a geisha.

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Satsu Sakamoto Character Timeline in Memoirs of a Geisha

The timeline below shows where the character Satsu Sakamoto appears in Memoirs of a Geisha. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...her father acted slowly and methodically in everything he did. Sayuri says that her sister Satsu, who is six years older than her, took after their father. Satsu had a slowness... (full context)
Chapter 2
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
...mind off her troubles. Returning home from the swim, she sees the “Sugi boy” fondling Satsu against a tree on the path to the house. Unsure of what they’re doing, Chiyo... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
...sister so that she can make a tea for their mother. Chiyo responds that since Satsu isn’t very good at making tea, Chiyo will make the tea herself. Mr. Tanaka asks... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
...and her father had just been talking about her. Mr. Tanaka says that Chiyo and Satsu should come to his house the following day for dinner and to meet his daughter,... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
The next day, Satsu and Chiyo meet Mr. Tanaka at the center of the village and climb into his... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
Ms. Fidget then tells a confused but obedient Satsu to undress completely. Ms. Fidget tries to put her hand between Satsu’s legs. Satsu resists,... (full context)
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
...Mr. Tanaka’s family eats in one meal. After dinner, Mr. Tanaka leaves the house. While Satsu and Kuniko’s mother wash the dishes and talk, Kuniko tells Chiyo to come with her.... (full context)
Chapter 3
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...assistant comes running up the path. He tells her that Mr. Tanaka wants her and Satsu to come down to the village immediately. Chiyo runs home and tells her sister and... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...girls smell like fish. He then takes out a comb and starts vigorously tearing through Satsu’s messy hair, causing her to cry from the pain. Feeling confused and scared, Chiyo blames... (full context)
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
The rickshaw stops and Mr. Bekku instructs Chiyo to get out. When Satsu tries to get out as well, Mr. Bekku pushes her back into the rickshaw, saying... (full context)
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
...or three months. Until then, she’ll work as a maid. Chiyo finds herself wondering if Satsu is also standing in front of an ugly woman right now. This thought about Satsu... (full context)
Chapter 4
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...hoping that Mother will send her to geisha school – where she hopes to find Satsu training to be a geisha. Chiyo thinks that if she finds Satsu, then the two... (full context)
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
...yesterday smelling just as bad as Chiyo. Chiyo pleads with Hatsumomo to tell her what Satsu said, but Hatsumomo responds that Chiyo must first earn the information. When Chiyo says that... (full context)
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
At school, Pumpkin takes Chiyo to the classes. Chiyo looks around for Satsu but doesn’t find her. In the first class of the day, Chiyo watches as the... (full context)
Chapter 7
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
...Hatsumomo will end up if she gets what she deserves. Chiyo wants to look for Satsu at the address but, as part of her punishment, she can’t leave the okiya for... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
...to give Hatsumomo her shamisen (instrument). Chiyo decides that this is her chance to see Satsu. Not telling the maid about the punishment, Chiyo goes to do the errand. Chiyo brings... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Soon after Chiyo finds the jorou-ya and steps inside, Satsu comes down the stairs. Her lips are painted a garish red and her skin is... (full context)
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
...sister, and says that she knows Chiyo must have made plans to run away with Satsu. To Chiyo’s surprise, Hatsumomo then gives her some money and says that she hopes their... (full context)
Chapter 8
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
...awake for the next few nights wondering how she will escape the okiya to meet Satsu. On the day before Chiyo and Satsu plan to run away, Chiyo washes the wood... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...her as if she isn’t even there. All that winter, she wonders what happened to Satsu and if her mother and father are still alive. During this time, Chiyo’s only comfort... (full context)
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...turn her suffering into beauty. At the end of the letter, he briefly mentions that Satsu arrived in Yoroido last winter and immediately ran off with the Sugi boy. (full context)
Chapter 22
Growing Up Theme Icon
...into the station. She remembers how the last time she boarded a train was with Satsu. Sayuri feel ashamed that, for the last few years, she has tried to stop herself... (full context)
Chapter 29
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...safety of her friends. She also comes to the realization that she might never see Satsu again. Sayuri had always believed that their paths would cross, but now with the chaos... (full context)