Study Guide

Memoirs of a Geisha Tradition and Customs

By Arthur Golden

Tradition and Customs

If this book were called Memoirs of a Barista or Memoirs of a Cubicle Worker it wouldn't have been quite the sensation that it was. One of the reasons Memoirs of a Geisha was so popular when it came out is because it opened a window into the super-secret world of the geisha. Geisha weren't on AOL back then (1997 was a simpler time) revealing all their secrets, so for many people, this book served as an introduction to their unique customs.

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. What are the most interesting geisha traditions to you? What rituals do you find the most strange or unusual?
  2. What makes the geisha stand out in Japanese culture?
  3. Do geisha remind you of any other sort of society, secret or otherwise?
  4. Why are readers so fascinated with the secretive world of the geisha?

Chew on This

Geisha keep their rituals and traditions a secret because the mystique is a major part of their image. Without it, they would not be as popular. Geisha would not exist without mystery.

To a Westerner, Japan in the 1930s was an isolated nation with many unusual customs. The geisha are even more isolated, and therefore even stranger.