Jumpstart | Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden


Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men’s solicitude and the money that goes with it.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.


I cannot begin to tell you about my deep love for this book. I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture and history, and when I first heard about this book in high school, I knew I had to get my hands on it. The book is actually a fictionalized memoir of sorts, that uses the background story of Mineko Iwasaki. Nitta Sayuri’s life begins in a very poor fishing village. Her mother passes away and in order to pay for his late wife’s medical bills, her father sends Sayuri and her older sister away, to become slaves in a geisha house.

As her life progresses, her rebellious nature pushes through – She is told countless times that she has ‘too much water’ in her personality – and she often continues to add to her ever growing debt (which has travelled with her from her home) for her insubordinate acts. With time, and careful training by Mameha (her benefactress), Sayuri grows to become one of Japan’s most sought after geisha’s.

This book was a beautiful look into the fictionalized life of a geisha; from her very humble beginnings, to her struggle to be with the man she loves. It’s wonderful and a must read.

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