Friday, February 6, 2009

The Robes of Tradition and The Sanctity of Their Calling

A beautiful, absorbing memoir of a precocious little girl living far away from her own home, who bloomed with the most exquisite grace and became Gion's Mineko, one of the most famous geisha in her era. To learn more information, check out online accredited colleges to find history classes that can teach you about Japanese Culture and the secret world of Geisha.

Masako Tanaka was a quiet little girl of independent means. Willful, clever, and often a little too proud, she lived her idyllic life before she decided to agree to go to an okiya to save her parents. She is taken in the Iwasaki okiya when she was barely 5 years old. Masako was going to be legally adopted into the Iwasaki household, and was deemed to be the apparent successor of the establishment. Though struggling to understand the situation as only a little girl can, she adapted to her new environment, came to get used to her small living quarters and had developed a relationship with the women of the okiya. And it was there that she discovered her love for the artistry of dance.
Her enthusiasm for learning and her perfectionist nature was the very mark that the women of the Iwasaki household found curious about her, six years old and ready to take on the brunt of her geisha training.

As the successor of the Iwasaki household, she was re-named Mineko Iwasaki, and from then on she continously studied the geisha arts and trained rigorously under the tutelage of the very best teachers in the dancing school until she was ready for her debut. At the age of 15, she shed her little girl's yukata and donned on an elaborate ceremonial kimono to celebrate her debut as a maiko. Her rise to fame was rocky, especially with the malicious intent of other geisha who try to bring her down. Her beautiful figure, delicate face, and her natural grace and talent for dancing easily eclipses almost all the other maiko. And though miserable and without friends, Mineko managed to master the traditional customs, perfect the dances and become versed with the shamisen. Finally, she "turned her collar" and became a full-fledged geisha by the time she was 21. It was at that time she began to unravel as one of the highest-paid and the most sought after geisha in the history of the Gion Kobu.
Mineko revolved her life around the okiya. She made a choice of dedicating herself to her craft and preserving the age-old tradition of the karyukai.
Geisha, A Life is a biographical work that reveals the intricacies Mineko's life as a geisha until her leaving Gion Kobu. Mineko seems vocal, proud and headstrong. But the pain, sadness and sacrifices that she made as she continues her journey to become a geisha is not something that's easy to overlook. This book is filled with her story and anecdotes about one of the most exotic and rare culture of the geisha.

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