The glamorous world of Kyoto's geisha is familiar to many readers. This autobiography presents a different view, one that bears little resemblance to the elegant geisha at a hot-springs resort, where the realities of sex for sale were unadorned by the trappings of wealth and power. Masuda was sent to work as a nursemaid at the age of six and was sold to a geisha house at the age of 12. In accordance with tradition, she first worked as a servant while training in the arts of dance, song, shamisen and drum. In 1940, when she was 16, she made her debut as a geisha. Very few geisha have written their memoirs, preferring to fade into obscurity. Although she had never gone to school and could barely write, Masuda undertook to set down her story. Motivated by the desire to tell the truth about life as a geisha, she responded to a national magazine contest - and won. The article later grew into a book. Remarkable for its wit and frankness, the book is a moving record of a woman's survival on the margins of Japanese society - and in the words of the translator is, 'the superbly told tale of a woman whom fortune never favoured yet never defeated'.