Geisha of Gion

Geisha of Gion GEISHA A LIFE No woman in the three hundred year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story We have been constrained by unwritten rules not to do so by the robes of tr

  • Title: Geisha of Gion
  • Author: Mineko Iwasaki Rande Brown
  • ISBN: 9780743430593
  • Page: 321
  • Format: Paperback
  • GEISHA, A LIFE No woman in the three hundred year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story We have been constrained by unwritten rules not to do so, by the robes of tradition and by the sanctity of our exclusive callingBut I feel it is time to speak out Celebrated as the most successful geisha of her generation, Mineko Iwasaki was oGEISHA, A LIFE No woman in the three hundred year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story We have been constrained by unwritten rules not to do so, by the robes of tradition and by the sanctity of our exclusive callingBut I feel it is time to speak out Celebrated as the most successful geisha of her generation, Mineko Iwasaki was only five years old when she left her parents home for the world of the geisha For the next twenty five years, she would live a life filled with extraordinary professional demands and rich rewards She would learn the formal customs and language of the geisha, and study the ancient arts of Japanese dance and music She would enchant kings and princes, captains of industry, and titans of the entertainment world, some of whom would become her dearest friends Through great pride and determination, she would be hailed as one of the most prized geishas in Japan s history, and one of the last great practitioners of this now fading art form.In Geisha, a Life, Mineko Iwasaki tells her story, from her warm early childhood, to her intense yet privileged upbringing in the Iwasaki okiya household , to her years as a renowned geisha, and finally, to her decision at the age of twenty nine to retire and marry, a move that would mirror the demise of geisha culture Mineko brings to life the beauty and wonder of Gion Kobu, a place that existed in a world apart, a special realm whose mission and identity depended on preserving the time honored traditions of the past She illustrates how it coexisted within post World War II Japan at a time when the country was undergoing its radical transformation from apost feudal society to a modern one There is much mystery and misunderstanding about what it means to be a geisha I hope this story will help explain what it is really like and also serve as a record of this unique component of Japan s cultural history, writes Mineko Iwasaki Geisha, a Life is the first of its kind, as it delicately unfolds the fabric of a geisha s development Told with great wisdom and sensitivity, it is a true story of beauty and heroism, and of a time and culture rarely revealed to the Western world.
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    756 Comment

    • Petra X says:

      The book, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden was based around interviews with Mineko Iwasaki. She was unhappy with the misuse of her words and wrote this, her autobiography. The book details her life as a geisha from childhood up until her retirement a few years ago, in her 40s. In the West, at least, 'geisha' has always been thought of as a euphemism for a high-priced whore, but as the book shows, the women earn far more as geishas than they could ever hope to do on their backs. The world of [...]

    • Madeline says:

      "No woman in the three-hundred year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story. We have been constrained by unwritten rules not to do so, by the robes of tradition, and by the sanctity of our exclusive calling. But I feel it is time to speak out. I want you to know what it is really like to live the life of a geisha, a life filled with extraordinary professional demands and richly glorious rewards. Many say I was the best geisha of my generation; I was certainly th [...]

    • Kara says:

      This is Iwasaki's response to Memoirs of a Geisha which I both read and enjoyed. I picked this up because I thought it'd be great to get the truth behind the story. This fell flat. The book couldn't decide if it was a memoir or a history of geisha in post-war Kyoto. If a history, it lacked description, and the author inserted too much of her annoying self (more on this later) into the story. If a memoir, the author didn't talk enough about her emotions. For example, she tries to kill herself as [...]

    • Sachi says:

      This woman wrote her book in a response to Memoirs of a Geisha because she felt that the book gave the wrong impression. Unfortunately for readers, this book is story after story about how great and important the author was / is. It doesn't represent life as a geisha, it represents life seeking fame.

    • Cheryl says:

      I started reading this as a memoir and realized my mistake because I was yearning for more emotion, more of an understanding of the narrator. I should have been reading it as an autobiography instead though, because it certainly has the texture of the traditional autobiography (rumors are, it was ghost-written). There is a lot here about the Japanese culture and the pictures really help you place the descriptions.Mineko Iwasaki tells the story of her life as a geisha in Japan. Written after the [...]

    • Elizabeth says:

      First, I would like to urge anyone who wants to learn more about geisha - READ THIS BOOK INSTEAD OF MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. The author of that, Arthur Golden, interviewed Mineko Iwasaki and twisted her tales into falsities, making it seem that geisha were high class prostitutes. This is not the case - oiran, a high class courtesan, sold their bodies, not geisha. In fact, Iwasaki was extremely upset when she realized Golden had twisted her facts on the life of being a geisha, and decided to write he [...]

    • Brittany says:

      Check out my blog to see Reviews of Books and Movies as well as Recipes and DIY projectsThis book was a solid 4 star read for me. Whereas Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha was meant to entertain, Mineko Isawaki's Geisha, a Life was meant to inform.Mineko Isawaki is most notable for being one of, if not THE most famous Geisha in Japan's history. This autobiography is told from her own view of the traditions and trails that she faced. Mineko does a brilliant job of taking the reader through the [...]

    • Ingrid Lola says:

      Yeeah Mineko Iwasaki unfortunately comes off as very unlikeable in this book. The overtone that she is trying to prove something (that Arthur Golden was "wrong" [even though he was writing fiction, which I feel she should understand, since she knows everything about art and all?]) is very, very strong. Like way too strong. Like it kind of made me laugh. It just didn't read well at all. I would love to have read more about how Mineko challenged the system (like she claims she did, but never says [...]

    • Rowena says:

      One of my favourite books ever! Mineko's story is so fascinating, filled with tragedy, love and intrigue. Also great introduction to Japanese culture.

    • Ailsa says:

      "I believed that self-discipline was the key to beauty."Mineko Iwasaki successfully sued Arthur Golden for modelling his novel Memoirs of a Geisha on her life. I can't really blame him. This memoir gets three stars solely due to how fascinating it is to see what it takes to become the most successful Geiko* of a generation.**Geisha of Gion is far from a perfect read. My gripes, in no particular order:1) Other reviewers suggest that Iwasaki had a ghost writer. If she did, she was robbed. There wa [...]

    • Kim-Lost-In-A-Book says:

      I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. I think it's a very real glimpse into a world many know very little about (but like to think they know more than they do). I liked the insight to traditional Japanese culture, something I've been interested in since my youth. Mineko lead a life that most women can not comprehend, and many would probably find appalling or undesirable, but Mineko lived it well, I think. While she was naïve in many ways, in others she was quite strong and mindful of how best to ha [...]

    • David Nicol says:

      I really liked it for the peek inside the life of a meiko/geiko in post war Japan. Mineko herself as a child is what we in the West would call a precocious little brat, but is more of a misinterpretation of the class system.Two things that were negatives for me though were the fact that either Iwasaki or Brown had never seen a Shamisen and/or a Viola. The text states that a Shamisen is played like a Viola. that I would like to see.The second thing was Mineko's assertion that she doesn't pass win [...]

    • Tracey says:

      I'd vaguely remembered hearing/reading something (maybe on NPR or 50bookchallenge posts) about Mineko Iwasaki, the prime source & inspiration for Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel, being disappointed with the portrayal of the geisha life in that novel, and therefore, she had written her own memoirs. So I checked this book out from the library and I now see where her concerns lie. Mineko (born Masako Tanaka) joined the Iwasaki okiya as a child, due to some family issues. She was fa [...]

    • Maria Elmvang says:

      Ever since I read "Memoirs of a Geisha" I've wanted to read this one, as Arthur Golden mentions this book as being one of his inspirations. On my way to Italy I found it at the airport, and immediately bought it. It did not disappoint. Where MoaG takes place around World War 2, this one describes the life of a Geisha in the 60s and 70s. You get to read about how Mineko meets Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and several other celebrities that we 'know'. Fascinating book.

    • Katy says:

      This was a pretty good book, but it was a little dry, probably due to the translation. Main point: Geisha are NOT prostitutes.

    • Lady says:

      I'd give this 2.5 if I could but it doesn't deserve a three. The author is stuck up, spoiled and full of herself. She Disparages both the Queen of England and Prince Charles for trivial things that a normal person would never even consider. She acts like shes better than everyone around her and bosses people around from a young age. She spends the entire book slamming the entire geisha system and is terribly offended that everyone doesn't change and do her things her way instead. If you're readi [...]

    • monica ♪ says:

      For people who don't know about Japanese culture maybe geisha for them has 'negative' image. But it's all wrong. Geisha don't sell their body. They sell arts!And this book tells the very detail about Geisha and their life.Geisha really are the real artist! They learn various traditional Japanese culture since they were very young.And being Geiko (Geisha) is not an easy thing. They have to take so many lessons, performing those arts (dancing, singing, playing traditional music instruments, etc) w [...]

    • Jensownzoo says:

      I enjoyed this peek into a fascinating culture. I read the fictional Memoirs of a Geisha by Golden first (which is based on Iwasaki's life) so was looking for some additional background reading when I found this autobiography. Definitely seemed much more like real life than the novel!

    • Crystal Navarro says:

      This book, like most non-fiction, had a bit of a slow reading pace. There were a few events that truly drew me into Mineko's story, though my review is going to be mostly about about the comparison of this book to Memoirs of a Geisha.It's kind of upsetting to me to see so many people say they changed their view of the fiction novel because of this book. Memoirs of a Geisha is a work of fiction- not everything is portrays will be straight on. The biggest confusion present is the use of mizuage-- [...]

    • K. says:

      The culture Iwasaki reveals is more than enough for me to give her a pass on the somewhat stilted writing - she isn't an author by trade, after all. I especially enjoy the fact that she pretty much wrote this as a big "fuck you" to Arthur Golden, who ignored her request for anonymity when she helped him with Memoirs of a Geisha; it's worth noting that Golden also misrepresented many facts about the life of geisha in general.I could not handle such a career - the lack of good sleep for such a lon [...]

    • Teresa says:

      Novela escrita como "respuesta" a Memorias de una geisha pues la protagonista no quedó contenta por como se reflejó el mundo de las geishas. Esta sin duda, es diferente, menos glamourosa y comercial pero seguramente mucho más fiel a la realidad. Lo que más me ha gustado ha sido todo lo que se explica sobre la cultura japonesa.

    • Christeena says:

      I think if you have read Memiors of a Geisha this is a must read. Mineko does a good job of telling about the life of a geiko (geisha) from her personal perspecive. I appreciated getting the first hand account of it.My only complaint would be the way she laud out the time line. At some points she jumped forward in time then jumped back in time and it was hard for me to keep track of her age and what other things were happening at the same time. I would have been able to follow along easier if it [...]

    • Arlie says:

      Four stars! I love reading memoirs - I think they're one of the best parts of reading: learning from people you've never met, experiencing a part of the world you never would otherwise, wonder. I've been meaning to read this particular memoir for several years; ever since I read 'Memoirs of a Geisha', which fascinated and enthralled me. And then I did some research and found out it had some very serious inaccuracies, and that Iwasaki (whom the author interviewed) had pressed charges for breach o [...]

    • Sparrowlicious says:

      Mineko Iwasaki takes you on into her world with her autobiography. In this book you'll learn about some japanese costums, what the world of the geisha (or geiko, as in this book) is like and how it is organized. You'll see how something that is normal for us can be viewed as un-normal or unwanted in this culture (like, signing a fan is not a good thing to do, as the geisha needs it for her performance). Mineko Iwasaki might come off to some people as being on a high horse or arrogant or anything [...]

    • Sara Murphy says:

      I enjoyed this book of Geiko life immensely. The entire time I read this, I thought fondly of Liza Dalby's "Geisha", written about the same period. Mineko Iwasaki was honest about her personal feelings and personal trials. She also wrote with passion on her love of dance. While reading this book, I felt like I was walking beside her as she went to dance class and Ozashikis at night. Her hard work throughout her life inspired my respect for her and the Geisha tradition even more than ever before. [...]

    • Juushika says:

      The autobiography of Mineko Iwasaki, the most famous geisha in Japan until her sudden retirement at the height of her career. This is written partially in response to Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha (although it never says so directly); as such, it's made accessible to a foreign audience and does much to explain the controversy surrounding Memoirs, particularly the liberties that book takes with Iwasaki's life story, as well as the way it elides geisha and prostitution. This is also a memoir [...]

    • Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) says:

      I was eager to read this, so eager that I read it in French--the only copy I could find. The translation from English (and previously of course from Japanese) was easy to read, in spite of a couple of hiccups--as a former professional translator myself, I know those are impossible to avoid. The French translation must be gentler than the English version, as there is quite a lot of self-deprecating humour included in the tales of her beginnings as maiko, and her bid for independence when she gets [...]

    • Gerda says:

      Kokia nuostabi moteris. Tiesa, knyga pilna įdomių faktų apie geišos gyvenimą, tradicijas, istoriją, tad nesuklys nei vienas, besidomintis japonų kultūra, paėmęs šią knygą į rankas, bet labiau už viską mane sužavėjo pati Mineko Iwasaki. Kuo daugiau puslapių buvau perskaičiusi, tuo labiau ja žavėjausi. Ji sunkiai dirbanti, nuo mažens paisė kas jai yra sakoma, vertino jai suteiktas žinias, o suklydusi tuoj pat atsitiesdavo ir dirbdavo dar sunkiau, užpuolikus pamokydavo, ka [...]

    • Andrea Samorini says:

      Mi è piaciuto conoscere un po' di più il mondo di queste artiste e la cultura del popolo Giapponese.Ho trovato interessante le notizie storiche, e mi ha emozionato molto la vicenda umana.

    • Miglė Keliotytė says:


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