Geisha of Gion: The Memoir of ... (Iwasaki, M.) [paperback]
The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki
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'I want you to know what it is really like to live the life of a geisha, a life filled with extraordinary professional demands and richly glorious rewards. It is a life in which I was a pre-eminent success; many say the best of my generation. And yet, it was a life that I found too constricting to continue. And one that I ultimately had to leave. It is a story that I have long wanted to tell. My name is Mineko.' For more than four decades, Mineko Iwasaki has lived within the confines of powerful but invisible constraints. Bound by an ancient, unwritten code - 'by the robes of tradition and the sanctity of our exclusive calling' - she and thousands of other women over the course of three centuries of Japanese history have shielded their extraordinary lives from public view. In Geisha of Gion, Mineko is the first Japanese geisha to shed light on the fascinating and arcane geisha tradition. Captivating and poignant, Mineko's book captures her earliest memories, beginning with her move to the geisha house at the tender age of four and her initiation into the profession that she would perfect. As we follow Mineko's gradual blossoming over the years from 'Little Princess' to the brightest of stars, we learn all about the intricate training and rigid education system by which girls become geishas, the specific duties and performances required of the women and the extraordinarily vast foundation of wealth upon which geisha culture rests. Filled with moments of great strength and delicate beauty, Geisha of Gion is a brave and luminous revelation.