GEISHA A LIFE MINEKO IWASAKI PDF

In Mineko Iwasaki was a retired geisha living quietly with her husband and daughter in the hills of Kyoto when a young American author named Arthur Golden called upon her with an unusual request. He was researching a book on geishas and wanted her help. Convinced that Mr. Golden would write an accurate account of her profession, Ms. Iwasaki said, she invited him to stay at her home for two weeks while she disclosed the intimate details of her geisha life.

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From age five, Iwasaki trained to be a geisha or, as it was called in her Kyoto district, a geiko , learning the intricacies of a world that is nearly gone.

As the first geisha to truly lift the veil of secrecy about the women who do such work at least according to the publisher , Iwasaki writes of leaving home so young, undergoing rigorous training in dance and other arts and rising to stardom in her profession.

She also carefully describes the origins of Kyoto's Gion Kobu district and the geiko system's political and social nuances in the s and '70s. Although it's an autobiography, Iwasaki's account will undoubtedly be compared to the stunning fictional description of the same life in Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha.

Lovers of Golden's work—and there are many—will undoubtedly pick this book up, hoping to get the true story of nights spent in kimono. Unfortunately, Iwasaki's work suffers from the comparison. Her writing style, refreshingly straightforward at the beginning, is far too dispassionate to sustain the entire story. Her lack of reflection and tendency toward mechanical description make the work more of a manual than a memoir. In describing the need to be nice to people whom she found repulsive, she writes, "Sublimating one's personal likes and dislikes under a veneer of gentility is one of the fundamental challenges of the profession.

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From age five, Iwasaki trained to be a geisha or, as it was called in her Kyoto district, a geiko , learning the intricacies of a world that is nearly gone. As the first geisha to truly lift the veil of secrecy about the women who do such work at least according to the publisher , Iwasaki writes of leaving home so young, undergoing rigorous training in dance and other arts and rising to stardom in her profession. She also carefully describes the origins of Kyoto's Gion Kobu district and the geiko system's political and social nuances in the s and '70s. Although it's an autobiography, Iwasaki's account will undoubtedly be compared to the stunning fictional description of the same life in Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha.

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Geisha, a Life

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Iwasaki was the most famous geiko in Japan until her sudden publicized retirement at the age of Known for her performances for celebrity and royalty during her geisha life, Iwasaki was an established heir or atotori to her geisha house okiya while she was just an apprentice. American author Arthur Golden interviewed her for background information when writing his book, Memoirs of a Geisha. Born as Masako Tanaka, she left home at the age of four to begin studying traditional Japanese dance at the Iwasaki okiya geisha house in the Gion district of Kyoto. She was legally adopted by the okiya's owner, Madame Oima, and began using their family name of Iwasaki.

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