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Geisha: A Life [Paperback]

Mineko Iwasaki
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.00
Price: 10.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Sep 2003
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.

Frequently Bought Together

Geisha: A Life + Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki + Autobiography Of A Geisha (Vintage Original)
Price For All Three: 23.48

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (30 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743444299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743444293
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading! 18 Mar 2005
Format:Paperback
This is a very well written book by a highly successful geisha of the 1960's and 70's Japan. Hated and envied by her older geisha sister, adored by her adoptive geisha family, she went on to be Japan's most succesful geisha and retired early at the tender age of 29 to run a tea shop. Now suing Arthur Golden for breaking his vow of not naming her as his source for his acclaimed novel "Memoirs of a Geisha" as it was unheard of for a geisha to break the vow of silence on their lives. The book may not have the excitement and the attention of Golden's novel but at least it's a true story itself and well written enough to get the reader's interest. Worth buying in my opinion and a warning to everyone: it has a different title by a British publisher, "Geisha of Gion" as I made the mistake of buying it, only to realise it was the same book but under a different heading.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving inspiration 1 July 2006
By 31
Format:Paperback
Geisha, A Life, by Mineko Iwasaki

I bought this book some time ago but only just got round to reading it. Western ideas of the Geisha are based largely on Arthur Golden's novel, Memoirs of a Geisha and, although his depiction has to a great extent been exposed as fanciful (he was successfully sued for defamation when it was released in Japan), there is little available to give a clearer picture of this secret world.

As I started reading Iwasaki, I had some scepticism - ok, as the number one Geisha maybe the elements involving prostitution didn't happen to her personally and so on - but as I read on I realised that Golden's fiction was based on Western fantasies and simply given a feeling of 'authenticity' by adding less important details he had gleaned from interviews. Iwasaki clarifies the background to show how various historical events and mistranslations easily support what westerners wanted to believe, but it is the sincerity, uniqueness and sheer marvel

of her life as a Geisha that evokes conviction and a sense of the marvellous.

On one of my trips to Japan years ago, I once encountered a Geisha in a hotel lobby. I didn't speak to her directly - simply viewed her from some feet away. But the atmosphere was as if royalty, an A-list Hollywood star, or someone like the Dalai Lama had just walked in. The charisma, for want of a better word, was so powerful it felt like a physical force that pushed me back against the wall. Everyone in the vicinity was in respectful awe of her personage as she passed through. The Geisha is a 'study of perfection' to use Iwasaki's words, and that is the impression I got.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fast and good value 24 Aug 2012
By aitor
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I got the product in a week and it was in quite good condition.I'm glad I bought it!
I've saved about ten punds just on a book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Sensitive 29 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback
I felt that this book was very honest, but at the same time sensitive and in some ways surprisingly relate-able. The author talks about the glamorous side of being a Geisha as well as the downside. You feel that you have a real sense of what it's like to step into her shoes. A large part of the book focuses on exploring the unusual family she was born into which is in itself very interesting. I recommend this book to any one who is interested in the Geisha world.

Jennifer K. Lafferty
Author of Offbeat Love Stories and More
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it 15 Oct 2011
By Orla
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
what a brilliant book, the story was well worth reading. I loved it. I both creid and laughed. I dont often re read many books, but I will this one sometime in the future.
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