Geisha, a Life

Geisha, a Life

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Overview

Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki

No woman in the three-hundred-year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story—until now.

"Many say I was the best geisha of my generation," writes Mineko Iwasaki. "And yet, it was a life that I found too constricting to continue. And one that I ultimately had to leave." Trained to become a geisha from the age of five, Iwasaki would live among the other "women of art" in Kyoto's Gion Kobu district and practice the ancient customs of Japanese entertainment. She was loved by kings, princes, military heroes, and wealthy statesmen alike. But even though she became one of the most prized geishas in Japan's history, Iwasaki wanted more: her own life. And by the time she retired at age twenty-nine, Iwasaki was finally on her way toward a new beginning.

Geisha, a Life is her story — at times heartbreaking, always awe-inspiring, and totally true.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743444293
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 09/30/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 245,791
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Born in 1949, Mineko Iwasaki was Japan's star geisha until she retired at the age of twenty-nine. She now lives in a Kyoto suburb, with her family.

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Geisha, a Life 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
K_malinczak More than 1 year ago
Okay, so I'm going to be very blunt and honest in this review and probably in the rest of my future reviews. I'm always honest, but sometimes I hold my opinions back a little bit for fear of offending someone. I just can't do it anymore. And when it comes to this review, I have some very strong opinions. First of all, I would venture to say that anyone that reads/read this book has already read Memoirs of a Geisha. This memoir is supposedly the real story of the geisha that Memoirs was based upon. It was written by Mineko Iwasaki herself with the help of an English translator. Now I can say that I have read both books, and Memoirs of a Geisha beats the pants off of this very informative, but slightly dry attempt at the same. Listen. I know parts of Memoirs of a Geisha are fictional. But some of the things that Mineko said about the book I find slightly offensive. She has said that Memoirs of a Geisha made the Geisha appear to be a high-classed prostitute. I never had that opinion after reading it. At all. In fact, quite often the author made the distinction between traditional courtesan and Geisha. Also, I want to talk about the Mizuage tradition. Mineko has stated that it was never a ceremony where a maiko's virginity was auctioned off to the highest bidder. As gross as this is, Mineko is being very misleading and she is/was not speaking the truth. During the time that Mineko was a Geiko, the practice had been outlawed, but before the 60's, it was commonplace. It was officially outlawed in 1959, but carried on for awhile after that. Now notice for a second the setting for Memoirs of a Geisha. Most of the book was set before World War 2. The whole virginity aspect was still very much a part of Geiko culture then. So like I said, Mineko was being very misleading in her book. I could go on and on about the disagreements I have with the things Mineko has said, but I think by now you get the point. I didn't dislike reading it, I found it to be very informative. But I also found it kind of dry and written with an air of condescension. Mineko thinks very highly of herself.I'm not saying that she shouldn't be, but I felt I was being talked down to for a good portion of the story. I gave it four stars, because it was a well-written piece of non-fiction, and I happen to be very interested in Asian culture, especially the Gaiko/Maiko culture. There is not a lot of information out there, and I will read whatever I can get my hands on. That being said though, I will probably never re-read this, but I will re-read Memoirs of a Geisha. There's actually a story there and quite a few facts. I would recommend reading this if you are interested in Japan or Geisha culture. Otherwise, it could go either way.
MoonDancerNJ More than 1 year ago
Whether you have read Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha" or not, I highly recommend this book as a true reference to what this ancient clandestine lifestyle of the geiko (woman of art) is truly about. Mineko Iwasaki graciously lifts the veil on this 300 year history, and takes great care in dispelling much of the western misconceptions regarding this practice of Japanese entertainment. Details of customs, costume, protocol and more of this fading culture lie within her pages. Immerse yourself in this 'flower and willow world'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderful true story, and I thought it was interesting to know that the author also helped Arthur Golden with Memoirs of a Geisha--that is, she told him what it was like to be a geisha. I haven't read Memoirs, but if it's as interesting as this, I'd say it's worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mineko Iwasaki's story was something unbelievable. It cleared up the mystery and stories behind the Japanese geisha like none other. It completely sucked me in, and I've read it many times since. Compared to any other books about the Japanese geisha out there, this one is definitely the best. It's full of honesty, heartbreak, and most importantly, the true meaning of the geisha.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great cultural insight into the life of the forbidden Geisha. Dispelling western misconceptions of Geishas, 'Geisha, A Life' is one woman's great journey as a Geisha. A definate read to those who prize culture,I highly reccomend it to anyone who has already read 'Memoirs of a Geisha'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really recommend this biography. It shows the truth. I think everyone who's read or watched Memoirs of a Geisha should read this book, so they can see how it really is. Although it may seem boring to some in comparison to Memoirs of a Geisha, at least it's honest. Besides, fiction is supposed to be more dramatic and colorful than real life, I guess some people can't accept that. I really enjoyed this book, and think that it should have been made into a movie instead of Memoirs of a Geisha.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was kind of a let down after reading Memoirs of a Geisha. This book was just a little bit boring... it didn't hold my attention as much as I thought it would. There were also so many people that were involved in the story, and their names kept changing, so I got really confused. But overall, it was an interesting read. It was a glimpse into a world in which hardly no one knows about. Yes, it may not be better that Memoirs of a Geisha (in my opinion) but I still enjoyed it, none the less.
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This is one of the most romantic yet descriptive geisha books I have ever personally read. I have read many! Top of my recommendation list for anyone who wants to take a trip back in time to the Real Japan and the Real Geisha Girls! You won't be disappointed! Enjoy and have a safe journey. :-)
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VERY GOOD
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Gives you an actual accounting and behinds the scene look at geishas as they really are and not as the media and public would have you think. The geisha who narrates the book is a very proud and comes across as arrogant sometimes but I would recommend book for those interested in geishas.
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