Author(s): Sayo Masuda
The glamorous world of Kyoto's geisha is familiar to many readers but Sayo Masuda's tale tells a different story, one that bears little resemblance to the elegant geisha quarters frequented by illustrious patrons. Masuda was a geisha at a rural hot-springs resort where the realities of sex for sale were unadorned by the trappings of wealth and power. Sent to work as a nursemaid at the age of six she was then sold to a geisha house at the age of twelve to learn the geisha arts. When she made her debut as a geisha in 1940 she was sixteen. Although she had barely learnt to write Masuda was determined to set down her story, motivated by the desire to tell the truth about life as a geisha and explode the myths surrounding their secret world. Remarkably frank and incredibly moving, this is the record of one woman's survival on the margins of Japanese society.
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Sayo Masuda, now 75 years old, lives quietly in Japan. The translator G. G. Rowley teaches English and Japanese literature at Waseda University in Tokyo. She is the author of Yosano Akiko and The Tale of Genji.