I have gone into another book consumption mode.
I just finished Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki, which I thought was marvellous. It’s Iwasaki’s autobiography of the the period she spent as the number one Geisha in Japan’s heavily ritualised society.
It illuminated the world of the Geisha for me and brought it alive in a way I have never experienced before. I especially liked the fact that it dispels the myth that the Geisha are prostitutes or courtesans. They are not. In fact, when Iwasaki relates incidents where she fought men off, up to and even running after her customers with wooden blocks when they assaulted her… she is to be admired. Don’t believe what they tell you about docile Geisha and Japanese women!!
I don’t know if I necessarily like Iwasaki’s writing style and there are times when she went into great detail about the customs and rituals; spending pages describing the Geisha costumes and make up and seriority and rank and subordination and such, then diving back into her own personal narrative. It was a very distinct shift…. somehow though the story told was compelling from beginning to end. I literally could not put the thing down. I read the entire book between Thursday afternoon and Saturday evening. After reading the book I feel I have a greater appreciation of Japanese culture, and an affinity of sorts with Iwaskai.
This is a strongly recommended read.
I have just begun Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers, which is VERY interesting. I will report when I am finished.