Its production designer and make-up artists will surely be rewarded, as should costume designer Colleen Attwood, who created the exquisite kimonos, and maybe even Gong Li and Watanabe as supporting actors.
One felt after the première that if the film can capture Japan, it can play anywhere.
All this has happened at a time when relations between Japan and China are frosty.
Japan's new prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is a staunch nationalist, and his recent visit to the Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism where the country's war dead are commemorated, caused offence in China, where the Japanese occupation is still bitterly remembered.
Mikiko, a young woman in her twenties, joined the profession after graduating from university, "because I loved the kimonos".
She had doubts about the film: "Being a geisha isn't something you just pick up to star in a movie.
Robert Mitchell, who runs BVI UK, says it is being positioned "as a love story, set against a stirring backdrop and the sweep of history".
That sounds about right: a concept to transcend national rivalries.
Shooting in real locations in Japan was originally considered, but this was logistically impossible.
When they gave speeches, Ziyi Zhang came close to tears in thanking Marshall for "the chance the film gave all Asian actors".
Japanese-born Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who has a minor role, noted that it was unusual to be part of a cast of international Asian actors: "And we have Hollywood to thank for that."These expressions of nation-to-nation solidarity were no accident.
Informal questioning of the audience after the film suggested that many young Japanese know little of the geisha life.
Nor can the film hope for global success without stellar casting - and no Japanese actress has the international appeal of Zhang, Gong Li or Yeoh.