Summary: The glamorous world of big-city geisha is familiar to many readers, but little has been written of the lives of hardship and pain led by the hot-springs-resort geisha. Indentured to geisha houses by families in desperate poverty, deprived of their freedom for a decade or more, these young women lived in a world of sex for sale, unadorned by the trappings of wealth and celebrity. Upon completion of their indenture, geisha were often left with no means of making a livi ...show moreng. In Autobiography of a Geisha, the first full-length account of a former hot-springs-resort geisha, Sayo Masuda chronicles the harsh life in the geisha house in which she and her "sisters" worked.
Masuda also tells of her life after leaving the geisha house, painting a vivid panorama of the grinding poverty in wartime Japan. After the war, as she eked out an existence on the margins of Japanese society, earning money in odd jobs and hard labor-even falling in with Korean gangsters-Masuda experienced firsthand the anguish and the fortitude of prostitutes, gangster mistresses, black-market traders, and abandoned mothers struggling to survive in occupied Japan.