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Memoirs of a Geisha

April 9, 2007

I just finished reading ‘Memoirs of Geisha’ by Arthur Golden. Set in Japan in early years of 20th century, it unravels the journey of a girl from small fishing village in Japan. The way she sees her life through rose tinted glasses during her childhood days, her bewilderment towards worldly affairs, her love for her fishing village, makes her strike a chord with us during the initial pages of the book. It is later followed by a elaborate description of the Geisha culture of Japan, and the struggle chiyo-san undergoes to finally emerge as a popular giesha, christened as Sayuri.

Unlike the popular tendency of relating a geisha to a prostitute, ‘gei’ in Japanese means art, geisha meaning an artist. Her principal aim is entertaining those around her, with tea ceremonies, playing shamsien and dancing. The book even gives us ghastly insights to how a young geisha’s virginity is sold to the highest bidder. It also throws light into the Deep Depression Japan went through during the years of second world war.

There are several heart touching moments in the book. The innumerable attempts little chiyo makes to reunite with her sister, the tribulations she faces in the geisha house in Gion, the pain she endures when the persons whom she trusted the most, betrayed her, are a few of those. The book as a whole tells the tenacity and perseverance u need to have to make your dream a success, be it becoming a popular geisha or winning a man’s heart.

Meanwhile, this is what japan-zone.com says about the current status of geisha culture in Japan.

Geisha do still exist and ply their trade, of course. But the role they play in modern society is minor and, except for the attention they get from camera-wielding tourists, largely unseen. In fact, most of the women captured on film are either maiko (apprentice geisha) or tourists themselves, done up for a few hours of faux sophistication and attention seeking.

The book is a must read for anyone who wants to know about the reality behind the Geisha culture of Japan.

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8 Comments
  1. thast some good review there….

  2. welcome back and hope to some more reviews so that i can pick one of those books to read.

  3. Just wanted to know if you would be interested to post your reviews on http://www.hook2book.comI am really sorry if I have barged into your personal space.

  4. I haven’t read the book. But having read your review, I would advise you to stay away from the movie. If the books is as good as you say it is, you are bound to find the movie quite lacking.

  5. @sreeThanks sree@ankurThanks ankur, will post more reviews in mean time@vinayI am interested to post it in hook2book. Will od it soon@manojI always like to read the book first, before watching the movie made out of it, so that i can compare the two. But didnt get a chance to watch the movie yet!!!

  6. Thanks dewdrop 🙂

  7. though i cudnt read the book i watched the movie based on this book..its interesting…

  8. @vinay:)@binduI haven’t watched the movie. I was planning to watch it after reading the book.

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