When I read Memoirs of a Geisha, I thought that it was one of the most amazing books ever because I learnt so much about Geisha culture and the process of becoming a Geisha. After reading Geisha of Gion, my opinion of Memoirs of a Geisha has changed, and not for the better. But this post is not about Memoirs of a Geisha (which has its own merit) but rather about Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwesaki.
I have to say that Geisha of Gion is the best biographical book that I have read. But this is probably influenced by my great interest in Geisha. Mineko's story covers the years of her life leading up to her becoming a Geisha, or as she says a Geiko. She tells of her childhood and how it came to be that she moved into the Iwasaki Okiya and became the Atotori of the house.
Her story tells of her dedication to her art, and how despite the nature of her personality she managed to become one of the most famous Geisha in Japan. Her story has many triumphs and failures and also sheds light on how ugly people can be, sabotaging those with great promise. This book will give you all that you could ever need from a book, and ending it is quite sad. I found that I really missed reading about life in the Okiya and the Ochaya.
This is definitely a must read for anyone who has a keen interest in the lives of others as well as those who love all things Japanese!!! Because this book is a biography, it is a really credible source on the lives of Geisha - it debunks many myths which have come to mar the good name of numerous Geisha.