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Film / Ginza Cosmetics

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It's just as depressing as it looks.

Ginza Cosmetics (銀座化粧 Ginza Keshō), is a 1951 film from Japan, directed by Mikio Naruse.

Yukiko is an aging geisha, now in her forties, in the Ginza district of Tokyo. While she was apparently once a geisha in the classic style, she now works as a bar girl at the rather sad Bel Ami bar, and in after-hours works as a prostitute with men she picks up at the bar. She is raising a son, Haruo, who is about eight, and is often left to his own devices when Yukiko is working at the bar or entertaining johns at the apartment. Yukiko and Haruo live with Kyoko, a younger and more innocent hostess at the Bel Ami whom Yukiko wants to protect from going into prostitution like her.

If being a middle-aged hooker weren't stressful enough, Yukiko's job at the bar is in peril, as the Bel Ami isn't doing so well and Sachiko, the owner, might have to sell to cover her debts. While all of that's going down, Yukiko's friend and fellow hooker Shizue asks her to play tour guide to Mr. Ishikawa, a friend of Shizue's Sugar Daddy, who is in town on business. Suddenly, as Yukiko shows Ishikawa around Tokyo, a chance at love and an escape from her life appears.



  • Attempted Rape: Yukiko approaches Mr. Kanno, a businessman, for the 200,000-yen loan that Sachiko needs to keep the Bel Ami going. He lures her to a warehouse and tries to rape her, but she escapes.
  • Does Not Like Men: "All men are animals", says Yukiko, and given her life circumstances she has reason to think so.
  • Downer Ending: Yukiko has to go hunting for Haruo after hearing that he never came back home. She foists Mr. Ishikawa on Kyoko while she goes out to look for her son. She then finds out the next day that Mr. Ishikawa and Kyoko have fallen in love and are engaged. Having lost her last chance at love, Yukiko resigns herself to toughing life out with her boy.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Mr. Ishikawa and Kyoko are engaged after one evening together.
  • Free-Range Children: Poor little Haruo is left to fend for himself most of the time while his mother is either working at the bar or entertaining johns. Usually this works out OK as the whole neighborhood knows Haruo and looks after him, but when he disappears one day while out and about Yukiko spends a terrifying afternoon hunting for him.
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  • Geisha: Yukiko used to be one, and she still dresses the part, and her date with Ishikawa reveals that she still has the gift for intelligent conversation. But she has fallen on hard times and has long since become a lower-rent bar girl and prostitute.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Yukiko is trying to keep Kyoko from going into the life. Not only does she let Mr. Fujimura patronize her free of charge, because he helped her out when Haruo was born, she even lends him money.
  • Lady Drunk: A deadbeat patron at the Bel Ami lures Yukiko to another bar with the promise that a friend will come with the money. He then sneaks out the back. A depressed Yukiko then stays at the bar until she is thoroughly plastered.
  • Missing Child: Haruo disappears for an afternoon after meeting a strange man. It turns out that the man was a fisherman and took Haruo for a ride on his boat.
  • The Mistress: Yukiko is envious of Shizue, another prostitute of Yukiko's age who has landed Mr. Kazai, a married man who supports her.
  • Parental Neglect: Yukiko does this sometimes, like when she not only breaks a promise to take Haruo to the zoo, but doesn't even see that he's looked after for before taking Mr. Ishikawa out on the town.
  • Red Light District: Ginza, or at least the part of Ginza where the Bel Ami is. There are lots of bars with neon lights. Most of those bars have signs in English clearly meant to attract American GIs (although none are seen in the film). Streetwalkers leave their children in diners while they go hooking.
  • Sexiled: A pretty depressing example. When Haruo sees a pair of men's shoes outside the door of their apartment, he knows he can't come in.
  • Single Mom Stripper: A middle-aged bar girl and prostitute working to support her boy.
  • Son of a Whore: Haruo is the product of a wartime romance that Yukiko had when she was a more refined geisha. She imagined that the man would marry her, but when she got pregnant he dumped her.
  • Streetwalker: Sachiko and Yukiko are talking in a diner when they see a streetwalker drop off her preschool daughter, before the streetwalker leaves to go troll for johns. "That could be me", says a terrified Yukiko.
  • Zip Me Up: Yukiko asks Mr. Fujimura to help tie up the belt of her kimono. This clearly turns him on but his appointment for the day is over.