Memoirs of Geisha

Drafted: 24 Jan '07

Geisha reminds me of beautiful kimono which is a traditional dress (like saree) worn by Japanese women. It also reminds me of the white painted face with lips painted deep red .

Memoirs of Geisha authored by Aurther Golden describes the life of a Geisha : Geisha is a profession which no girl would take up and forced to take up without any other choice. The book is a story of young girl, Chiyo Chan, happily living in a small village with her elder sister and parents before the World War. Her father, a fisherman, much older than her mother. Once, Chiyo questions her father,"Why do you look so old than mother?", he says,"Is it so? I don't know." The very next day, her mother takes her to a cemetery and shows three graves,"The grave of this women is your father's first wife, the other two graves were their children. That's why your father looks very old than me." Chiyo, a beautiful girl with blue eyes just like her mother.

Chiyo's mother falls ill and her father being poor, has no money for her treatment. Before her death, Chiyo and her sister are sold to become Geishas. Chiyo is sent as a trainee to a Geisha House called Okiya and the care taker is the mistress of the Okiya. She finds another trainee of her age, Pumpkin. Chiyo's attempt to escape from the Okiya fail. Once she meets a Chairperson on the way who consoles her and buys her an ice cream. From then, she is motivated to become a Geisha hoping to see the chairperson in the future. The struggling journey of young Chiyo as a maiko to renowned Geisha Sayuri with the help of Mameha. The survival of Sayuri from others jealousy, find a danna, during World War and migrating to America to start her own Tea House.

Memoirs of Geisha gives a detailed description of their day-to-day life. How difficult it is to maintain such a hairstyle, makeup and long flowing kimono. As a trainee, Geisha are taught high discipline, to walk slow, never spill tea while sipping, eating etc... They are taught dancing, playing instrument and required to visit the Tea House very often. Once they decide to marry, they have to give up their profession as Geisha.

Arthur Golden interviewed many Geisha including renowned Mineko Iwasaki . In his book, he acknowledges her for telling the life style of Geisha. He was legally sued by Mineko Iwasaki for including many false inaccurate descriptions. Later, Mineko published her own autobiography, Geisha of Gion.

Geisha's are neither courtesans nor wives. They are performing artists.

© Manasa. All rights reserved.


  1. I loved this book and read it as fiction. And I agree that the descriptions of life as a Geisha were fascinating. I was also taken with how they had to cope with the war and what life was like after the war.

  2. No reading till end of boards(though I managed to read a book called the red queen)

  3. i loved the movie. i dnt mind watching it again. and i read the book too :P

  4. I loved the book, and saw the movie also.Its a very fascinating story and tells us what a person can do if he/she puts his/her mind to it.I have read lots of Pearls buck's novels also, they are also a good read , very detailed description of chinese way of living.

  5. The underlying love story portrayed in the movie was so completely touching! I will also read the book where I hope it is portrayed at least equally. She waited so long foor him. Isn't life so like that - all about timing.

  6. Wish to read the book. Geisha's are so much like our own tawaifs. The tawaifs were also well mannered companions, neither courtesans nor prostitutes. Its different that the name has come to mean something indecent with the passage of time.

  7. i ve heard a lot about geisha. but still plan on read sudha murthy's books first (or whenever happens to be the earliest :| )
    anyother sudha murthy's books after mahashwetha ?

  8. Awesome Review Manasa!
    Just read this one, and loved it very much!


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