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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Jerkass Has a Point: Pumpkin's revenge against Sayuri is meant to be a major Kick the Dog, but as she points out to Sayuri, Sayuri took Pumpkin's life goal of becoming officially adopted by the okiya and becoming one of the most successful geisha in Gion, and she didn't really even want that; it was all just "a stepping stone" to get to the Chairman. Under those circumstances, it's easy to feel like Pumpkin's revenge was justified, even if Sayuri hadn't meant to ruin Pumpkin's life.
A common criticism of the film is that Chinese actresses are used in a movie that portrays a facet of traditional Japanese life, thereby implying that the two races are interchangeable to Hollywood. As a rebuttal to this, it's been pointed out that Zhang Ziyi had already been in Japanese roles long before the film, and in Asian cinema, no less.
Though it's best not to go into detail with the book's flaws, Mineko Iwasaki's biggest beef with the novel was that Golden spent more time discussing sex than he did about a geiko's true role (preserving art and culture). In her autobiography, however, she does acknowledge that the mizuage existed, but existed within the realm of oiran (high-class prostitutes) and not with legitimate geiko life.
Similarly to the Pumpkin situation, Nobu's reaction to Sayuri could be seen as extreme, but she did make him believe she loved him, under instruction from Mameha, so his feelings of betrayal when she and the Chairman get together is pretty justified, especially as the Chairman pretty much orchestrated the whole thing.
The Woobie: Pumpkin. Not as pretty as Sayuri, not as talented as Sayuri, not as smart as Sayuri, not as lucky as Sayuri, and browbeaten by her supposed mentor Hatsumomo into the bargain. Oh, and Sayuri is unwittingly responsible for Pumpkin's downfall.
Chiyo, at least until Mameha decides to take her on.