Relive the Memoirs of a Geisha

Looking for a book that transports you to a different era and culture? Then Memoirs of a Geisha is for you! Read on for a student reflection on the story.

By Remi Matza

Have you ever wanted to see what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes? Have you ever wanted to live in a completely different time period, in a completely different setting? If you’re interested in being transported to a different era in history and gaining an accurate understanding of what it was like to live during the 1930s, then Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is the book for you. 

In great depth, Memoirs of a Geisha follows Chiyo Sakamoto’s rise to success and the obstacles she must overcome along the way. Over the course of the novel, Chiyo transforms from a provincial, innocent young girl to one of the most successful and renowned geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto, Japan in the 1930s. As a geisha, Chiyo entertains men through conversation, dance, and song. 

Chiyo was born in a tiny fishing village where  everyone knows everyone, and where there is little technology or exposure to the outside world. As her mother, who suffers from an illness, approaches death, and as her financial situation declines, her father sells Chiyo and her older sister to an okiya, a house where young girls live to train to become geisha. Coming from a small town to a big city is intimidating and overwhelming, and Chiyo is exposed to a whole new world filled with love, jealousy, competition, and strength. Facing feelings of abandonment from her father, separation from her sister, extreme hatred and sabotage from another geisha in the district, and more, Chiyo demonstrates unbelievable persistence.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about a different time and place, as well as anyone looking to be inspired. Chiyo’s journey taught me that with strength and determination, anything can be achieved. She also taught me that there is great value in charisma. Sometimes in life, it is not about being the best at things, but about being the most strategic. Chiyo’s character was developed with such depth that it felt like I knew her by the end of the book. I sympathized with her during her darkest moments, and celebrated with her during her greatest successes. This book enwraps you into the life of a young small-town girl from the first page; however, by the end, the young girl becomes a strong and powerful woman. Memoirs of a Geisha is nearly addicting and certainly memorable. I am convinced that this storyline will forever be one of my favorites.