Now known by her geisha name, Sayuri tells a story of her childhood in her tipsy house; of friends and a certain enemy within the okiya; her struggles; of being a geisha before and after the second world war; of love, and her life after her days of being a geisha were over.
At nine years old Chiyo is taken from her family and everything she has ever known and is sold to an okiya in the most prominent geisha district in Kyoto. After years of rebelling, being in trouble and being a maid she breaks down in the street and is comforted by a kind man simply known to her as the Chairman. She donates the money he has given her to a shrine in Gion, praying to become a geisha in the hopes of seeing him again one day.
After hard work, dedication, and thoughts of the Chairman, Chiyo not only goes on to become a geisha, but one of the most well-known geisha in Kyoto.