Tell Your Own Story: Geisha of Gion: Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki - Book Review

Tell Your Own Story—Geisha of Gion: Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki | Book Review Part 2 (Non-spoiler)

Maybe this series is not going to turn out like your typical book review series. Seeing that “Geisha of Gion” is a memoir, at times I feel more urged to review the character of the author Mineko Iwasaki. It requires a lot of courage to stand on truth when surrounded by arrows of lies. I have learned so far that the lives of geikos are in many ways tremendously private affairs. Not to mention, the art of a geiko is sacred and their training is rigorous. Many sacrifices must be made and kindred ties severed, especially in the case of Iwasaki’s rise as an atotori. An atotori is the heir to a geisha house or okiya. Traditionally, geikos were very notable figures in their communities like cultural diplomats—not prostitutes or loose women.

Tell Your Own Story

The first lesson “Geisha of Gion” taught me—the most important lesson—is the power of telling your own story. I could draw many false conclusions had I not been compelled to dig deeper into the sanctity of geiko tradition. The most bewitching part is Arthur Golden’s book acknowledgments claim he received his information from the “life experiences” of Mineko Iwasaki. Golden did actually have the privilege of interviewing Iwasaki for background information in confidence. However, he went on to give her name, while fabricating his own version of her reality. This is why Mineko Iwasaki’s “Geisha of Gion” is such a powerful masterpiece in my eyes.

People from afar often interpret your interworkings based off of their own pre-established biases. Others simply and maliciously only seek to rob you of your story and make it their own. Sometimes it is…scary, to think you must tell your story—one that is only yours. No one truly has the rights to your story but you. For Mineko Iwasaki, her life is one of many sacred traditions. Moments she revealed and graciously shared by compellation and indirect force were never meant to be sourced. Yet, when faced with the reality that some people inadvertently or intentionally sought to only rise upon her kindness, Iwasaki chose to gift her truth. There is always power in your truth

Missed book review part 1 of “Geisha of Gion: Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki” →READ IT HERE



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Geisha of Gion: Memoirs of a Geisha - A Geisha's Life: Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki (Photo: The Historic Rosemont Manor in Winchester Virginia)

Geisha of Gion: Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki | Book Review Part 1 – First Thoughts

I have been infatuated with the mysterious beauty of the geisha, more formally geiko from a very young age. However, the inner workings of the lives of geikos—women of art—seemed so far out of reach growing up. Yet, the portrayal of geishas in movies, and modern culture, primarily in the United States media left me captivated. The film “Memoirs of a Geisha” adapted from the book of the same title by European novelist Arthur Golden left me even more enamored. The movie heightened my curiosity. Nevertheless, slowly, I grew very skeptical of the portrayals I had grown accustomed to seeing.

As I grew wiser I began to question my miseducation on the world I had come to love and admire. I started to realize that Hollywood, to say the least, and authors like Golden consciously chose to highly sexualized and ritualize prostitution in their depictions of the lives of geisha. Somehow I knew the art of a geiko was more of a sacred art than simply a carnal fancy. Coming to the latter awareness led me to search for a truth hidden within all of the mysteries.

Continue reading “Geisha of Gion: Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki | Book Review Part 1 – First Thoughts”