I’m obsessed with Japanese culture, some might say to an unhealthy level and I will admit that my obsession started with geishas. I will also admit that the novel Memoirs of a Geisha was the very beginning of it. After reading this astounding novel about a culture I hadn’t known existed before hand, I had to know my! My research into the world of geisha led me straight to the book Geisha, A Life.
The author of this memoir is Mineko Iwasaki who was trained, from the age of five, to become a geisha. She lived a life that even a princess would be jealous of with a dozen parties every night and legions of admiring kings, princes, military heroes, and wealthy business men alike. She was said to be the best, most successful geisha of her generation, but she had to leave when she discovered that she needed something else: to live her own life. She retired early but lived a vivid and awe-inspiring life as a geisha which is recalls vibrantly in her memoir.
Iwasaki penned her own memoir when she was left disappointed in the novel Memoirs of a Geisha (which the author Arthur Golden based off interviews he did with Iwasaki). She decided to tell her story of being a geisha–a completely true story. In fact, in the three-hundred-year history of the female geisha profession, she is the first women to come forward and write what might be called a ‘tell-all’ book about the mysterious world of Japanese geisha culture. The writing itself is clear, concise, and very articulate (Iwasaki’s translator having done a good job) and although it doesn’t flow quite like a novel might, it’s still an enrapturing read.
|Iwasaki in her prime|
|Iwasaki in her okiya|
My final thoughts on Geisha, A Life are that it is a great book. It gives an insight into a world that the west had no idea existed before the late 1990s! The prose flows beautifully, the story is amazing (even more so when you realize that this woman actually lived this life), and the pictures that are included are just amazing. I highly suggest this book to anyone and everyone!