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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing insight!
After reading "Memoirs of a Geisha" i was really hungry for more literature about this fascinating world and i picked the right book. Ms Iwasaki's story is truly interesting and offers an amazing inisght into the REAL world of the geisha. The details are so fine and exquisite that you really dont want to tear yourself away from this world. It also cleared up a lot of...
Published on 27 Oct 2002 by Soraya

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sarah
This is definatly an enjoyable read. You are bound to enjoy it if you like Chinese/Japanese literature and are interested in Geisha culture. You do take from this book an insightful understanding of Geisha training in Japan and other aspects of this e.g. tea ceremony, dancing, komono costume design etc.

The book also puts across effectivly just how much time,...
Published on 11 Sep 2007 by Sarah


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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing insight!, 27 Oct 2002
After reading "Memoirs of a Geisha" i was really hungry for more literature about this fascinating world and i picked the right book. Ms Iwasaki's story is truly interesting and offers an amazing inisght into the REAL world of the geisha. The details are so fine and exquisite that you really dont want to tear yourself away from this world. It also cleared up a lot of misconceptions that "Memoirs of a Geisha" presented. The latter text relates of a practice called the "mizauge" in which a young geisha offers her virginity to a patron (who has paid for the privilege). Ms Iwasaki clears this up and points out that it was NOT a part of her experience as a Geisha and that the practice belongs to another group. The only criticism i would have is that Ms Iwasaki tends to come accross as a little arrogant and presumtious sometimes (e.g the time she believes she caused the Queen and Prince Phillip to sleep in separate beds!). But other than that, this book is truly MARVELLOUS!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Geisha's Life, 24 Feb 2004
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
I've read the reviews below and think some people have missed the point a little; yes, it's true Mineko can come across as being up herself but in reality she's just very factual, as is the style in Japan. She could easily be discussing someone else's life rather than her own. It's a fasinating book which reveals tons about the kind of life Geisha's have and how much hard work it is. I would highly recommend it - more so than Memoirs of a Geisha.
Read it and be your own judge.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable read, 3 Jun 2003
By 
J. Kisseih (Surrey, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
Beautifully written and a book you can't put down (even though Mineko comes across as a little full of herself at times). It really goes into detail as regards the life of a Geisha (which essentially seems to be to entertain men albeit in a refined way).
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mysteries Revealed!, 8 Nov 2006
By 
C. Calisgil "Leyla" (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
These are the memoirs of Mineko Iwasaki (born Masako Tanaka) who became the number one Geisha in the Gion Kobu area of Kyoto and remained as such until she decided to leave the community at the age of 29. Some reviewers have stated that she seems to think too highly of herself, but my understanding is that she's simply telling her story in the way she remembers it, and her self-descriptions are influenced by what those close to her led her to believe about herself. She left her parents at the age of 5 to live in the Iwasaki okiya, an all female environment, where she trained in the arts necessary to become a Geisha. At the age of 10, she agreed to adoption by the Iwasaki house, and took the name Iwasaki. She eventually left the community because the heirarcy had remained unchanged for several hundred years and was not moving into the present world; the trainee geisha's education is limited to the necessary Geisha arts, with no academic training at all. For instance, as a teenager she had no idea that the human body has 2 kidneys. The accounts of her childhood reveal quite a disturbed child; she would sit in dark cupboards for hours on end if worried or upset by anything. In order to fall asleep, she would suckle at the breast of either her older sister, or her 'Aunty' (the owner of the oikya) and this practice continued until she was 12! She even made a childish attempt to commit suicide by trying to strangle herself with her velvet hair ribbon following her adoption into the Iwasaki `family', although she was never forced into adoption. She goes on to be the number 1 geisha in the Gion Kobu, has a long-term relationship with a well-know, married, Japanese film star which she finished after 5 years, as his promised divorce never materialised. After leaving the Iwasaki house, she went on to marry and still lives in Kyoto with her husband and daughter. Her book was published in 2002, when Mineko was 52. The story, as told, lacks the drama of Memoirs of a Geisha, a book that I read some years ago. It's content, however,is most enlightening to those who have no knowledge of the life and commitment of a geisha and I believe it has been told with honesty.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truely beautiful read!, 2 Jun 2003
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
This book was an insightful look into the world of Geisha from the viewpoint of one of it's own (normally close mouthed) people. You really relate to Mineko and her story. A great look at how people react to others within the Flower and Willow world of Kyoto. Also relates the authors own struggles with the education system within the Karyukai. Highly reccommended for anyone intrested in Geisha and their community.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening, fascinating & educational readl!, 9 Dec 2006
By 
FAMOUS NAME (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
I purchased this book in error thinking it was fiction (I only read fiction generally) and so when I eventually picked it up to read it and learned my mistake, I was hesitant, and did not feel I would enjoy it. A further disadvantage for me was that it wasn't historical either (as I only read historical fiction as a rule) which was a double blow, and so this caused me to lack even more interest in what I was about to read... However, I gave it a go, and I wasn't disappointed!

I found the book very readable, and I looked forward to each new read when I would pick it up and be surprised at what I read! I found it incredibly fascinating to learn that a small child who had began her life hiding in cupboards and a child who was obviously lacking in great confidence and so bashful, could develop into such an adept person in her Art, and then to be equally successful having 'retired' from her profession upon entering the outside world!

I found this book, enlightening, fascinating and certainly educational! Educational, in that we learn from it that we can all do what we'd like to do if we all put our minds to it - and do it well! I expect this book has been inspirational to many people who would have read it.

When I finished the book, I felt I would miss 'Mineko' - I became fond of her, and genuinely interested in her life.

Highly recommended - even for those who don't usually read non-fiction!

Definitely five stars!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful glimpse into a little understood culture, 3 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
After reading both 'Memoirs of a Geisha' by Arthur Golden, and 'Geisha' by Liza Dalby, I was pleased to find this book as good. The prose flows well and captures the interest, and the photos add an element which was lacking in the other books I have mentioned (although 'Geisha' contained photos, I did not think they were as good, being black and white).
The story is interesting, and Mineko is a good story-teller, with each sentence being complete in itself. However, I would agree with other reviewers, as I also thought that Mineko sounded at times arrogant, and seemed to exude an air of superiority over those around her.
Overall, this book is excellent, and has the notable advantage over 'Memoirs of a Geisha' of being a true story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and engaging, 22 Dec 2003
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
I'm reviewing this having only just read half... but it is so wonderfully engaging I read at every oppertunity. I'm glad for the traveling I have to do for work. I've never enjoyed delayed trains until now. I would agree that Mineko-san does have an air of superiority, but her story itself explains why; the way she was groomed for greatness, the way she was treated like a princess as a child and given so much power (within the household) so early. But I have nothing but respect for her drive and ditermination. I can't wait to get through the second half, but at the same time know I'll feel hollow for a few days after finishing it, as I do after every good book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fasinating, 23 Jan 2007
By 
M. Mukhtar "Moazma" (UK, Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
I am fasinated by the Chinese and Japanese cultures and picked this book up after reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha'.

I must say I enjoyed reading both Geisha of Gion and Memoirs of a giesha. The books are comparatively very similar and when reading you are able to see how the story of Memoirs of a Geisha has been highly influenced by giesha of Gion.

This story is about Mineko Iwasaki (childhood name is Masaka Tanaka). This is her story of her life as a Geisha.

The art of the 'Geiko' or 'Maiko' is very interesting and complex. If she wants to be successful she needs to put alot of effort into practicing the dancing and wake up early and sleep late. The story evolves in the Gion Kobu area of Kyoto the most popular Giesha district. Mineko decided to retire at the age of 29 at the hieght of her success. She became a great dancer and jthe most popular Gieko in the district in the era. Before becoming a Geiko she was a Maiko (dancer) and when she turned her colar she became a Geiko. There is specialised traininig given to Geiko which starts when she is very young. They are trained to dance, pore sake, learn tea cermony and performing. The maiko or Geiko are artists that perform specialised skills in tea houses.

Mineko decided to join the Iwasaki family at the age of five and was adopted at 10. She left her parents to try and improve things for them and to be able to support her parents.

Mineko was hated by one Iwasaki family member whom she learn't afterwards was her own blood sister. Her sister was increasingly becoming jelous of Mineko's success and the love her adoptive mother had for her.

When Mineko was younger she found solace and comfort in a cupboard and was continuing this when she joined the Iwasaki family. She slowly started to find her conifidence and eventually stopped for her own benefit. She was hard working and dedicated to her family and profession.

I do recommend this book to you all. It is worth it and very interesting.

I find the Japanese have a fantastic culture.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing story into that life, 25 Jan 2006
This review is from: Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Paperback)
I read this book about a year ago, unaware of the "Memoirs of a Geisha" book and subsequent film, which I became aware of as Zhang ZiYi (who stars in it) is a favourite actress.
I had always understood that Geisha (or Geiko) were not the same as other 'ladies of the floating world', but I had no idea that they trained for so long, so hard, and that the clothes were changed for each season, and cost so very much.
I got the impression that Geisha were patronised much as famous artists are now. People appreciate the artistic quality, but only pay so very much for the best to show others that they can.
I am glad I read this book BEFORE I saw the dramatisation. My only criticism is that one is left wanting to know even more, especially about her later life.
I enjoyed the descriptions of each aspect of the life and preparations, the language and customs.
I would recommend this book to people interested in knowing the real story (or at least, the real story of a most prominent Geisha).
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