Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
In Japanese society, geisha still have a role to play as exemplars of gracefulness and cultivation, despite the near disappearance of this livelihood and art form. One of the customs of being a geisha is that wealthy or prominent men will "buy" their contract, which means that they have a primary obligation to appear at the contract-holder's side whenever he or his guests require the special entertainment geishas provide. Though there is a sexual element to this form of livelihood, it cannot be called a form of prostitution in any way, with one exception: customarily, virgin geishas are ritually deflowered by the highest bidder. The bidding wars that precede this practice frequently result in an amount that will completely pay for the previous training of the young girl. If this were not done, the girl would have to find some other way to pay her geisha-house back for the rigorous training she has received in classical Japanese dancing and music (not to mention the cost of her ruinously expensive gowns). In this story, Nayoko (Nobuko Miyamoto) is an "a-ge-man" or "golden geisha," whose mere presence confers success on whoever holds her contract. Over the years a number of men bid for or sell her contract, until it is bought by the one man who truly loves her.