Book Reviews of Geisha of Gion

Geisha of Gion
Geisha of Gion
Author: Mineko Iwasaki
ISBN-13: 9780743469005
ISBN-10: 0743469003
Pages: 334
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3

3.8 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Pocket Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

6 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Geisha of Gion on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the same book as Geisha: A Life. The book was published as Geisha, A Life in the U.S. and Geisha of Gion in the UK.
reviewed Geisha of Gion on + 189 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent, true account of a top geisha coming of age in 1960's-80's Japan. Has color and black and white photos.
reviewed Geisha of Gion on + 45 more book reviews
Extremely good book!
reviewed Geisha of Gion on + 39 more book reviews
Ten times better than Memoirs of a Geisha. Mineko was real. This was her real life. She shared her daily life, all the good and the bad. I saw into her heart as she made choices in her life and ever so interesting to see why she left the life. I really appreciated the distinction she made between a Geisha and woman who added sex to their goods. A true geisha did not sell sex. Loved how she had to throw away her favorite fan because Prince Charles ruined it with his autograph, which he assumed she would want, and she didn't. Awesome book.
reviewed Geisha of Gion on + 643 more book reviews
Same as: ISBN-10:074343059X paperback!


Review
It's impossible to bring up the subject of geishas without mentioning Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, but fascinating and beautifully written though that book is it would be a shame if its success was at the expense of this marvellous factual memoir, written by the very woman who inspired Golden. Mineko Iwasaki is, by her own admission, probably the most famous geisha - or geiko, to use the correct designation - of her generation. What makes her account so different from Golden's book is the fact that she is so aware of the conflict between the highly secretive, traditional world of the karyukai and the modern society that was developing around her in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the most truly fascinating aspects of this autobiography is not so much the astonishing detail of the rigorous aesthetic and physical demands made upon these young artists (the prurient should note once and for all that 'geisha' does not in any way equate to 'courtesan'!), as much of that is now known to us through other accounts, but the conflicting emotional demands placed on Iwasaki by her calling, her family, and, ultimately, her desire for freedom. An exceptionally beautiful young child, she was selected early to become the successor - the head of the family - of a particular geisha house (okiya) in Kyoto, and was legally adopted by the owner. (To understand how she was able to bear to leave her family in such circumstances, one has to be aware of the debt of honour owed by her family to the okiya after an elder sister left under a cloud.) The interiors, the dances, the theatre, the kimono: all are described in such loving and beautiful detail that you are truly transported into a different world. Yet, when Iwasaki describes her decision not just to leave the profession (she became an art dealer, married and had a child) but to close down the okiya when she was just 30 years old, one begins to understand her frustration with the archaic system and its failure to respond to the demands of late 20th-century society. A must-read. (Kirkus UK) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Product Description
'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. It is a life in which I was a pre-eminent success; many say the best of my generation. And yet, it was a life that I found too constricting to continue. And one that I ultimately had to leave. It is a story that I have long wanted to tell. My name is Mineko.' For more than four decades, Mineko Iwasaki has lived within the confines of powerful but invisible constraints. Bound by an ancient, unwritten code - 'by the robes of tradition and the sanctity of our exclusive calling' - she and thousands of other women over the course of three centuries of Japanese history have shielded their extraordinary lives from public view. In Geisha of Gion, Mineko is the first Japanese geisha to shed light on the fascinating and arcane geisha tradition. Captivating and poignant, Mineko's book captures her earliest memories, beginning with her move to the geisha house at the tender age of four and her initiation into the profession that she would perfect. As we follow Mineko's gradual blossoming over the years from 'Little Princess' to the brightest of stars, we learn all about the intricate training and rigid education system by which girls become geishas, the specific duties and performances required of the women and the extraordinarily vast foundation of wealth upon which geisha culture rests. Filled with moments of great strength and delicate beauty, Geisha of Gion is a brave and luminous revelation.
reviewed Geisha of Gion on + 643 more book reviews
Same as: ISBN-10: 0743220366 hardcover!


Review
It's impossible to bring up the subject of geishas without mentioning Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, but fascinating and beautifully written though that book is it would be a shame if its success was at the expense of this marvellous factual memoir, written by the very woman who inspired Golden. Mineko Iwasaki is, by her own admission, probably the most famous geisha - or geiko, to use the correct designation - of her generation. What makes her account so different from Golden's book is the fact that she is so aware of the conflict between the highly secretive, traditional world of the karyukai and the modern society that was developing around her in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the most truly fascinating aspects of this autobiography is not so much the astonishing detail of the rigorous aesthetic and physical demands made upon these young artists (the prurient should note once and for all that 'geisha' does not in any way equate to 'courtesan'!), as much of that is now known to us through other accounts, but the conflicting emotional demands placed on Iwasaki by her calling, her family, and, ultimately, her desire for freedom. An exceptionally beautiful young child, she was selected early to become the successor - the head of the family - of a particular geisha house (okiya) in Kyoto, and was legally adopted by the owner. (To understand how she was able to bear to leave her family in such circumstances, one has to be aware of the debt of honour owed by her family to the okiya after an elder sister left under a cloud.) The interiors, the dances, the theatre, the kimono: all are described in such loving and beautiful detail that you are truly transported into a different world. Yet, when Iwasaki describes her decision not just to leave the profession (she became an art dealer, married and had a child) but to close down the okiya when she was just 30 years old, one begins to understand her frustration with the archaic system and its failure to respond to the demands of late 20th-century society. A must-read. (Kirkus UK) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Product Description
'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. It is a life in which I was a pre-eminent success; many say the best of my generation. And yet, it was a life that I found too constricting to continue. And one that I ultimately had to leave. It is a story that I have long wanted to tell. My name is Mineko.' For more than four decades, Mineko Iwasaki has lived within the confines of powerful but invisible constraints. Bound by an ancient, unwritten code - 'by the robes of tradition and the sanctity of our exclusive calling' - she and thousands of other women over the course of three centuries of Japanese history have shielded their extraordinary lives from public view. In Geisha of Gion, Mineko is the first Japanese geisha to shed light on the fascinating and arcane geisha tradition. Captivating and poignant, Mineko's book captures her earliest memories, beginning with her move to the geisha house at the tender age of four and her initiation into the profession that she would perfect. As we follow Mineko's gradual blossoming over the years from 'Little Princess' to the brightest of stars, we learn all about the intricate training and rigid education system by which girls become geishas, the specific duties and performances required of the women and the extraordinarily vast foundation of wealth upon which geisha culture rests. Filled with moments of great strength and delicate beauty, Geisha of Gion is a brave and luminous revelation.