Study Guide

Memoirs of a Geisha Appearances

By Arthur Golden


What do you wear when you go to work or to school? Do you dress for style or for comfort? Some wear jeans and a t-shirt wherever they go. Some people must dress more formal for work, wearing a powersuit and heels—and if you're like Hillary Clinton, you have one in every color of the rainbow.

But if you're a geisha, you don't just roll off your mat and get dressed in the morning. Getting ready is a ritual. A geisha's outfit is 99.9% style and .1% comfort. Kimono look soft and comfy, yes, but they're heavy as heck and hard to walk in. Geisha may get to sleep until noon, but they have to be on at all times.

Questions About Appearances

  1. If you were to make a YouTube video showing how a geisha gets ready, what would you make sure to include?
  2. The three main parts of a geisha's appearance are the hair, the makeup, and the kimono. What is the significance of each part of her appearance? How do these parts of her appearance change as she matures from apprentice to full geisha?
  3. Why do people find Sayuri so striking? How does she benefit from her alluring appearance?

Chew on This

The geisha's meticulously crafted appearance is like a mask—a full-body mask.

Because a geisha looks perfect on the outside, many men believe she is perfect, but beneath the makeup, she is far from perfect. All the geisha have their flaws.