Life of a Geisha

"The first geisha was indeed a courtesan named Kako. Over time, she discovered that she had no need to engage in the red-light district. Kako was directly or indirectly to heir to many schools of Japanese art. She called herself a geisha ("arts-person") and confined herself to giving artistic performances."  Read More

Prostitution is of course referred to as the "oldest profession," and the history of the geisha stretches back several centuries. But while many people assume that geisha is just a Japanese word for a prostitute, the somewhat more romantic word 'courtesan' is probably closer in nuance, though even that is misleading when you consider their history. The word geisha itself literally means 'person of the arts' - indeed the earliest geisha were men - and it is as performers of dance, music and poetry that they actually spend most of their working time.   Read More

Geisha were trained in various areas of expertise from dancing, playing an instrument, conversation, to serving drinks and a variety of other skills to help them perform. In Japan, some skills were not taught and were expected to be learned by going to teahouses and observing what the geisha did. This way of learning by observation was very prominent in Japan and was used in very many fields. Other skills such as dancing and playing an instrument were taught in geisha schools. These schools were where geisha went instead of high school and college.    Read More

 

Memoirs of a Geisha
Reviews, News and Impressions

"Beautiful to look at but falls short of substance."

 

Memoirs of a Geisha tells the story of a geisha known as Nitta Sayuri, who lives in New York as a hostess to Japanese businessmen. Sayuri reveals in the beginning that as a child she was known as Sakamoto Chiyo, the daughter of a fisherman in a small village in Japan. Soon after her mother died, she and her older sister are taken to Gion by one of the more well-off men in her village. Her sister is sold to a brothel and Chiyo is sold to an okiya, a house for geisha.  More

CNN Says 
Dion Beebe's lush cinematography, John Myhre's stunning production design, Colleen Atwood's brilliant costumes, John Williams' stirring score and a superb international cast can't take away the fact that the film adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel, "Memoirs of a Geisha," falls somewhere between a "Cinderella" fable and a really good episode of "Knots Landing."  Which is to say, it doesn't do the richly detailed novel justice.

Salon's Take
Ah, the Christmas movie season. What better time for Hollywood to serve up a big prestige picture designed to open our eyes to the quaint cultures of other lands? This year: All aboard the Orient Express for "Memoirs of a Geisha"! This is a very serious, very long, very pretty picture about the life of a geisha in pre-World War II Japan, starring three of the biggest actresses in the world -- they happen to be from Hong Kong and Malaysia, but let's not get too hung up on the details.

 

"Memoirs of a Geisha is worthwhile on many levels, although it lacks the depth of feeling that would have elevated it from a good movie to a romance for the ages."   -   James Berardinelli

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