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I think that her story is amazing and inspiring, and I want to share with you some of the key points.
Mineko was born in 1949 in Kyoto and was adopted by the owner of an okiya (geisha house) when she was five years old. She began her training as a maiko, an apprentice geisha, at the age of six and made her debut at the age of 15. She quickly gained fame and became the most sought-after geisha in Gion, the most famous geisha district in Kyoto. She entertained many celebrities, politicians, and members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II.
She was known for her beauty, grace, intelligence, and artistic abilities. She could dance, sing, play instruments, and engage in conversations on various topics. She had a strong personality and a sense of independence.
She challenged some of the traditions and rules of the geisha society, such as the practice of mizuage, which involved selling a maiko's virginity to the highest bidder. She refused to do so and instead chose her own partner for her first sexual experience.
She retired from being a geisha at the age of 29, something that was highly unusual and shocking at that time. She wanted to lead a normal life, get married, and have children. She also wanted to preserve the dignity and art of geisha culture, which she felt was diminishing due to modernization and commercialization. In 2002, she wrote her memoir titled 'Geisha of Gion' (also known as 'Geisha: A Life' in the US), which became a bestseller and a source of inspiration for many people. She also sued the author of 'Memoirs of a Geisha,' Arthur Golden, for breach of contract and defamation, as he used her name and stories without her permission and depicted geishas as prostitutes.
I believe Mineko Iwasaki is a remarkable woman who defied expectations and stereotypes and lived life on her own terms. She showed that geishas are not just objects of male fantasy, but artists and professionals with their own dreams and perspectives. She also shared a glimpse of a mysterious and fascinating world that most of us will never experience.