Memoirs of a Geisha
Memoirs of a Geisha is a compelling novel that is centered on a young girl’s journey of maturing and becoming a prominent and successful geisha. The book was written by Author Golden and published in 1997. The story was based on the life of geisha in Japan during the 1930s and 1940s. Geisha literally translates into “art person.” Geisha are Japanese women that are trained to entertain men with singing, dancing, and conversation. The book itself was very accurate in a historical perspective and quite frankly, a very good read.
The book opens in the first-person voice of Sayuri, the main character, and stays the same throughout the novel. Sayuri tells about her childhood growing up in Yoroido. Chiyo Sakamoto (Sayuri’s birth name), her sister Satsu, and her mother and father, all lived in a tipsy house on a cliff by the sea. At the age of nine, Chiyo’s mother became terribly ill. While running an errand to get some incense, Chiyo falls and injures herself. She meets Mr. Tanaka Ichiro, who is a wealth Company owner. From this point on, her life would be changed forever. Mr. Tanaka knew of their family’s tough situation, so when he stopped by their tipsy house to talk to their father, Chiyo was convinced he was going to adopt her and Satsu. She soon found out that was not the case. Satsu and Chiyo were both taken away on a train to Kyoto. Chiyo was separated from her sister and was placed in an okiya, or geisha house.
Chiyo meets Auntie, Mother, and Granny, the owners of the Nitta okiya. She then meets Hatsumomo, who is the only geisha in the house. Chiyo also meets Pumpkin, another girl her age training to become a geisha. Chiyo is told that if she works hard, she may have the opportunity to begin her geisha training too. A few weeks after Chiyo’s arrival, Hatsumomo starts to manipulate Chiyo by telling her that she knows where Satsu is staying. Chiyo begins lesson at the geisha school a month into her stay. One evening Chiyo is forced by Hatsumomo, to damage Mameha’s expensive kimono. Mameha is Hatsumomo’s rival. Chiyo gets the blame for Hatsumomo’s wickedness, and learns that she owes every penny she earns to the Nitta okiya; until she pays back all of her debts. Hatsumomo eventually tells Chiyo where her sister is staying, and she and Satsu make escape plans. When the night came to run away, Chiyo got caught and in the process broke her arm. Mother tells Chiyo that she can no longer become a geisha and will have to work as a maid instead. A few months later Chiyo receives a package. In it is a letter saying that her mother and father have both died and that Satsu had returned to Yoroido, only to run off with some boy.
One afternoon the great deal of sadness from the loss of her family, hit Chiyo all at once. She sat on the side of the road crying, when a man she called “The Chairman” was very kind to her. After that event she went to the temple and prayed that somehow she could become a geisha. Later that week Granny is electrocuted by a heater and dies. Mameha comes to the okiya give her condolences. While there, Mameha takes notice of Chiyo and tells her to meet privately. They discuss Mameha wanting to take Chiyo as her “little sister.” Soon after Mameha makes a deal with Mother, that states that if Chiyo can repay all her debts back by the age of 20, as a geisha, Mameha would get a good sum of money. Hatsumomo takes Pumpkin as her little sister and Pumpkin made her debut as an apprentice geisha. Chiyo gets jealous, because she is weary of waiting. Then the day finally came when Chiyo becomes made her debut. Mameha and Chiyo go through a ceremony to become “sisters.” Chiyo changes her given name to the geisha name, Sayuri. When Mameha and Sayuri start to attend parties, Hatsumomo followed them everywhere. She would show up at the parties and try to humiliate Sayuri.
Mameha takes Sayuri to a sumo wrestling match to meet Iwamura Ken and Nobu Toshikazu. Iwamura Ken is the...