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Geisha Of Gion: The True Story Of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki Paperback – 6 May 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; New Ed edition (6 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074343059X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743430593
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A fascinating account ... Her storytelling is charming' -- Big Issue

'A glimpse into the exotic, mysterious, tinged-with-eroticism world of the almost mythical geisha' -- Daily Mail

'Eloquent and innovative ... It should be received with nothing but respect' -- The Times

'Honest and authentic' -- Adeline Yen Mah, author of FALLING LEAVES

'This beautifully written book gives a truly fascinating insight into a secretive world' -- Company Magazine --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

MINEKO reached the peak of her career as a geisha in the 70s and 80s, performing for the likes of the Queen and Prince Charles. Now fifty-two years old (and still stunningly beautiful), she is the mother of one daughter and lives with her husband in a suburb of Kyoto, Japan.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.Read more ›
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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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