Literary Travel: Memoirs of a Geisha in Kyoto

Literary Travel: Memoirs of a Geisha in Kyoto


The life of a Geisha is mysterious and compelling. When you spot them quickly shuffling to the next tea-house, some carrying an instrument, you feel a sense of awe.

Some women want to experience a day in the life of a Geiko (what Geishas refer to themselves as, and how they are known in Kyoto). Some men long to admire a Geiko, as she is an artist (of seduction, among many things). Even pouring sake is a show in itself.

Young Geisha Maiko in Kyoto

The book Memoirs of a Geisha lets the reader in to the mysterious world of Geishas, giving you a glimpse of what life is like. The story is written like a biography, telling the story of a Geiko called Sayuri, who was torn from her family at a young age.

The book is so intricately written that you feel as though you are following Sayuri through her life, watching her bloom into a Maiko, then debut as a Geiko. The story describes teahouses, theatres, and the training that takes place to become an artist so talented that your every move is in the art of seduction, rendering you a seductress of the highest degree. The book is so good at painting this portrait that you find yourself feeling like Sayuri was real, when in fact she’s a fictional character brought to life by the research of author Arthur Golden.

Kyoto Gardens

It’s no wonder that many people are compelled to read Memoirs of a Geisha while in Japan, particularly Kyoto. For a quiet spot to read, we suggest the banks of the Kamogawa, the gardens of the Imperial Palace, or in the Japanese style cafe Yo-ji ya on Philosopher’s Walk. You may even want to explore the life of a Geiko for yourself, considering the Geiko district of Kyoto, where the story of Memoirs of a Geisha took place, is just minutes away.


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