Geiko Books

At last, I have gotten hold of some of geiko-related books. I’ve been wanting them to read so that I could learn more about their culture and tradition, and besides, it’s fun reading something you’re really interested at. It started when I first read “Memoirs of a Geisha”, and then I became interested in the karyukai – the flower and willow world of traditional Japan, where geiko and maiko entertain with their arts and heartfelt hospitality.

“Memoirs of a Geisha” is not really entirely wrong. It’s a well-researched book, however, if it wanted to show and prove that geiko are not prostitutes, then the plot should have just focused on that. But I do no like the way geiko were portrayed in the movie; as much as possible, they should have followed the traditional image (including hairstyle, makeup, etc.). Sayuri’s hairstyle, kimono and makeup were also off.

“Geisha” by Liza Dalby is a must read book for those who wanted to learn more about geiko history and tradition, not only in Kyoto but also from other hanamachi or flower districts. It is also partly narrative of what she experienced during her stay in Japan, especially when she became Ichigiku, a geiko of Pontocho for a short period of time.

On the other hand, “Geisha, A Life” by Iwasaki Mineko, a former popular geiko of Gion Kobu, is about her autobiography. Mineko used this book to counteract “Memoirs of a Geisha”, where she partly helped for the information. I like this book a lot because of the plot, and also, because of Mrs. Iwasaki’s interesting personality. It also contains some old pictures of herself during her maiko and geiko time.

I have also read “Geisha in Rivalry” by Nagai Kafu. It’s generally about rivalry in Shimbashi district, with the novel revolving around Komayo, a geisha. The setting is more or less around  World War II, so it’s interesting to know more about the geisha lifestyle during that time.

I hope I could read more books about them, especially Komomo’s autobiography (geiko of Miyagawa-cho).


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