Memoirs of a Geisha

Rich. Colorful. Smooth flow. That’s what comes to my mind when I think of this excellent novel by Arthur Golden. I had been wanting to see the movie ever since I took this book. I got to see the film lately in Zee Studios and I must say I am floored.

There is a definite distinction between the written word and a visual presented to you. You get to imagine a lot in reading the written word. When you watch the same matter in visual form, you can sometimes connect to both and enjoy. Even more, if it is vice versa with the visual medium first and the words next, it is an enjoyable experience. I got it vice versa-from the movie to the book.

This was the first time I came to know that there exist a form of Japanese entertainers called Geisha who are trained in dance, music, tea ceremony and the delicate art of hosting parties. Golden gives us a clear picture of who a Geisha is and what makes a Geisha different from the others by her unique training in all art forms. The book takes us through the memoirs of one of the most celebrated Geishas in the 20th century, Sayuri-fictitious no doubt in name, but original in all other respects- so brilliant, so delicate that we as a reader are transported to Kyoto’s Gion district.

We admire Sayuri a.k.a Chiyo’s clever mind(the way she names her house as a ‘tipsy’ house to Tanaka) and later as an apprentice Geisha takes on Hatsumomo, when she is separated from her sister Satsu and lives in the Okiya, her troubles and hardships over the period leading to her being taken up by Mameha, her meeting with the Chairman and her fervent wishes that she become a Geisha(the river bridge scene where she meets the Chairman for the first time and takes his words in a positive sense is a brilliant piece), we can only admire at the way Golden puts down the memoirs that we doubt if it is Sayuri or Golden delivering the dialogues.

The movie is even more colorful, never mind the fact that the cast was Chinese in nature. Excellent visuals, fantastic script kept closely to the book makes the film a treat to watch and remember.

This is one book and film which will linger for a long time in your memory.

The elegant hairstyle of a Geisha:

A Geisha entertaining a customer in Kyoto:

For more information about Geishas, visit


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