Here’s an article from Japan Today about the film.
“It was an exquisite journey making this film,” said [director Rob] Marshall [imdb entry]. “We had to film most of it in Los Angeles because we couldn’t find any places here that still looked like 1920s and 1930s Japan. We ended up building a little Japan in Ventura, California. For the final scenes, we filmed in Kyoto temples that had never allowed filming before.”
I remember when I mentioned Memoirs of a Geisha to my Japanese instructor. He was so angry that Arthur Golden, the book’s author, had betrayed the trust of the geisha whose story he’d rewritten for his novel. I had been wondering whether others in Japan shared his sentiments. If they do, I presume they swallowed their pride for the sake of good PR. The movie is sure to turn even more attention towards Japan, boosting tourism and trade. That would explain why a film whose beginnings were so controversial could ever be filmed in temples that had never before allowed filming.
I found this bit interesting:
“We talked with Rob in great detail about whether this would be a culturally and historically accurate film or a concept film,” [Ken] Watanabe [imdb entry] said. “Since it is a fantasy world, the details were not as important as they would have been in something like ‘The Last Samurai.'”
[Kaori] Momoi [imdb entry] was at first shocked when she found out the leads wouldn’t be Japanese actresses. “Then I realized that the book is told through the eyes of an American and for the film, further filtered through an American director’s lens,” she said. “I wanted to play up my nationality. There were some details that were wrong, such as the makeup wasn’t thick enough on the geisha, but in the end, I think this modern twist on geishas will appeal to younger audiences.”
Marshall hastened to add that he tried to pay great respect to Japanese culture.
Perhaps they’re going for an air of mystery and fantasy, claiming that no one will ever really know “The Secret Life of Geisha“. At this point, I’m just going to throw up my hands, and go see the movie.
It would be cool to see it in Japan, wouldn’t it?