THE GEISHA ‘Iwasaki’

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Mineko Iwasaki 岩崎 峰子 real name : Masako Tanaka 1949

‘Iwasaki’  is a Japanese businesswoman, author and former geiko (Kyoto term for geisha).

Iwasaki was the most famous geiko in Japan until her sudden publicized retirement at the age of 29. She was known for her performances for celebrity and royalty during her geisha life, she entertained numerous celebrities and foreign dignitaries including United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.

Born as Masako Tanaka, she left home at the age of five to begin studying traditional Japanese dance at the Iwasaki okiya (geisha house) in the Giondistrict of Kyoto. She was legally adopted by the okiya’s owner, Madame Oima, and began using their family name of Iwasaki. She had been chosen as the house’s atotori, or heir.

Iwasaki became a maiko (apprentice geiko) at age 15. She also received the name Mineko, as prescribed by a Japanese fortune-teller. By age 16, she had earned a reputation as Japan’s most popular maiko and finally became a geiko on her 21st birthday.

American author Arthur Golden interviewed her for background information when writing his 1997 book, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Iwasaki later regretted interviewing for Golden, having cited a breach of confidentiality and later sued and settled out of court with Golden for the parallelism between his book and her life. She later released her own autobiography titled Geisha of Gion or Geisha: A Life (USA) in 2002.

“Geishas are not submissive and subservient, but in fact they are some of the most financially and emotionally successful and strongest women in Japan, and traditionally have been so.”

— Iwasaki Mineko, Geisha, A Life

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This blog is dedicated to the Beauty of the Geisha’s and every sunday we will write a story about a Geisha that lived in the past.  All braidstyles are created by Ramona Krieger and from 02|07 until 06|08 they are published and added to our Collections.


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