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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous insight into the world of Geisha
After reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha' I became somewhat enchanted by this magical world of Geisha. Since then I have read many (both fictional and non-fictional) books on this subject. Liza Dalby's 'Geisha' is a truly fabulous look into the historical background and changing nature of these women. At times the prose tends to read a bit like an essay or dissertation and you...
Published on 12 Feb 2002

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting.
I found this book interesting and no one could take away the fact that Liza Dalby worked as a Geisha for one year.

However I found it a little misleading as the write up led one to believe Liza Dalby was the only Western women to become a Geisha, my understanding is, the lady ACTED as a Geisha for one year in order to write about Geisha life. I understood to...
Published 13 months ago by babes


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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous insight into the world of Geisha, 12 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
After reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha' I became somewhat enchanted by this magical world of Geisha. Since then I have read many (both fictional and non-fictional) books on this subject. Liza Dalby's 'Geisha' is a truly fabulous look into the historical background and changing nature of these women. At times the prose tends to read a bit like an essay or dissertation and you get the feeling that she has tried a bit too hard to include pompous and sometimes unecessarily 'flowery' language often with complex and overpowering sentence structures. The book would simply not be the same though without these aspects, it is after all not a novel about Geisha. Once you get used to re-reading parts that are especially thick and in-depth the book does become more enjoyable. This is a highly intelligent and educational book, though, which may account for some of the opulent grammar and language. Having said that, I particularily like the inclusion of photographs to highlight certain parts of the text. The factual content is, however, one of the best I have come across. If 'Memoirs of a Geisha' inspired you to find out more about the customs, traditions and rituals involved in a Geisha's life then this is a wonderful book for you. Although, I would recommend reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha' first as a 'taster' as this might be a bit heavy for those who do not have the craving to learn more about the intruiging world of Geisha.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and intelligent insight into this vanishing way of life, 28 May 2006
By 
Ruth C. A. Morris "Ruth_84uk" (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
After reading many reviews of this book, I do feel that people have misunderstood it. Just to get one thing clear, this book isn't some romantic work of fiction like 'Memoirs of a Geisha', it reads more like a text book with some personal experiences thrown in.

I don't think Liza Dalby ever meant to become a geisha in the formal sense, she was there to do research for a dissertation or thesis of some kind on the subject. Many people have pointed out that her attending social occasions as a geisha without having years of training etc makes a mockery of the whole profession. This could not be further from the truth.

Liza Dalby writes with intelligence and emotion and provides the reader with one of the most informative works on the subject that I have encountered. She covers every subject from the history of the geishas, to the instruments they play and how they dress. The book can be quite heavy going at times, but it is worth sticking to. If you are a fan of 'Memoirs of a Geisha' (as I am), then this is certainly worth checking out.

Another book worth checking out is 'Geisha of Gion' by Mineko Iwasaki.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact, not Fiction!, 27 May 2007
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
This is a very interesting book that gives a valuable insight into the world of geisha. As a more accessible text based on an anthropologist's study, it achieves an in depth look at history, tradition and the geisha world of thirty years ago from the point of view of an outsider who became accepted into the Pontocho community. It is well written and presented in a format that can be dipped in and out of with ease, with excellent notes, glossary and indexing.

Unlike some other reviewers on this page, I have read and re-read this book, and frequently use it for reference. The background information about such topics as the different geisha districts in Kyoto, geisha names etc. is excellent in helping the reader's greater understanding of the subject.

I would recommend following up this book by reading the autobiography "Geisha of Gion", by Mineko Iwasaki, which is a highly personal account by the leading geisha of the 1960s, in contrast to Dalby's more objective study.

Readers, please remember that Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha" is fiction! If you are looking for "racy" fiction, full of vague details about "oriental life", this is NOT the book for you...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual and touching, 24 April 2006
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
I have to admit, I never had much interest in any part of Japanese culture before, and then Memoirs of a Geisha came out as a movie, and I was intrigued, I did enjoy the book but I was now hungry for the truth behind the idea of what became a bestselling fiction. This book was my answer, a facinating look with western eyes at such an amazing and rich history. Liza Dalby chronicles an amazing journey that will immerse you in a world that may someday vanish.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful intro to the world of the geisha, 26 Nov 2002
By 
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
This book has, both very moving involving areas and historical factural areas. This helps put the reader in a better context to view, dalbys work on the geisha. It begins with a very moving moment of ichuime dalbys older geisha sisters death, and rewinds to bring the readerthrough her experinces of geihsa life and what geisha mean in japanesse culture and society.
Its well illustrated, with many graphs and photographs which are bery useful in felping the reader visualise the geisdhas stories.
Overall however she does make many comparisons to the west and this may prove and issue when studying geisha academically.
For the casual reader it is a useful insight not just into the world of the geisha, not only japanesse culture but also into the dynamic dicipline of anthropology
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'a snapshot of a particular era.', 2 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
This book is a bit dated now, but still brilliant. Of all my books on geisha, it is my favourite. A must-read for any geisha enthusiast or anyone curious.

I couldn't help but notice some other reviewers have marked this book down because they are under the mistaken impression that it is supposed to be a fictional story like 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. This really isn't the case. It is a factual account of a (then) young woman who was allowed to live amongst the geisha of Kyoto's Pontocho district while studying their traditional subculture for her PhD. So OF COURSE the book isn't going to read like a racy, exciting novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geisha, 19 July 2008
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
In `Geisha' Liza Dalby has managed to write a book studying the lives of Geisha and how their art developed, whilst at the same time making it flow like a novel. This book is an in-depth look at Geisha life and also touches upon general life in Japan as well, which makes for fascinating and captivating reading. It is illustrated throughout with photos and a few charts/graphs to demonstrate points made. Liza is the only (at the time of writing) foreigner to be introduced into the Geisha world and this affords her, and us, with a unique insight into the traditions and lifestyle of Geisha. She writes with genuine humour and with sympathy for the lives Geisha lead and the sacrifices they make for their art and this is passed on to the reader. I found myself completely immersed in the lifestyles and aspirations of those described and had a deeper understanding of Geisha life as a result. An informative read, written in a beautiful way, what more can you ask for?

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An educational version of 'Memoirs of a geisha', 6 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
Having read and enjoyed 'Memoirs of a geisha' I was keen to read this book by the first non-Japanese geisha. While it makes for interesting reading, don't expect it to be a 'story'. Liza Dalby is an anthropologist and that's exactly what you get - an anthropological study of geisha life in the 1970's from a Westerners vantage point. I normally can't put a good book down, but while I think it's a good book, it's quite easy to put down because it has the feel of a textbook. Still, if you are interested in the subject it's great - and there are quite a few photographs too!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting., 24 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
I found this book interesting and no one could take away the fact that Liza Dalby worked as a Geisha for one year.

However I found it a little misleading as the write up led one to believe Liza Dalby was the only Western women to become a Geisha, my understanding is, the lady ACTED as a Geisha for one year in order to write about Geisha life. I understood to become a Giesha took years of training.
However Liza Dalby is to be congratulated for her contribution,This must have been a great time for Liz.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 10 Jan 2011
This review is from: Geisha (Paperback)
Geisha by Liza Dalby is an innovative insight into the world of geisha, told by the world's first ever foreign geisha, accepted into the ranks of a prestigious, "flower and willow world" of Japan's traditional history.

This is a very beautiful book, both telling Liza's (or Ichigiku; her geisha name) story of becoming a geisha in order to forward her anthropological course and telling us the history of Japan and its geisha world. Even though I love Japan and its culture usually I don't like history but the way Liza tells this is both compelling and very interesting to an anti-historian such as myself.

The book almost comes to an end too soon (I finished it in four days) and I can't wait to purchase Liza's Kimono to learn more about the beautiful clothing geisha and maiko wear. If you have the slightest interest in Japanese history or geisha culture you have to buy this!
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Geisha by Liza Dalby (Paperback - 28 Sep 2000)
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