Picture Books

Geisha by Tina Skinner

Using a wealth of vintage photographic material this book covers historic views of geisha and the pleasure districts during the early 20th Century.

The geisha are treated as an exotic beauty brought to the West by trade and imperialism. Through the historic images detailed analysis is given on clothing, accessories, dance poses of the time. A wonderful graphic source for the costumier or historian.

Geisha: A Photographic History

Hand tinted vintage photographs from the hey day of geisha society.  Photographs are mostly taken from souvenir photo books sold at the time.

Essays are included on the history of geisha and also Japanese photography. A good coffee table book for the historian.


A Geisha’s Journey: My Life As a Kyoto Apprentice

The modern day pictorial of Komomo’s life as a maiko in Kyoto. This shows a rare insight into the change of life as she enters the profession from first entering the geisha household through to training and her erikae. Available in both English and Japanese.




Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art

A photographic collection from Jodie Cobb a photographer for National Geographic. The pictures are high quality and show a deep and rare insight into the geisha world including some personal moments. Many photos are included of older women in the society. Sadly the editing and text leave something to be desired – Jodi is a photographer and not a writer and this shows.


Geisha: A Unique World of Tradition, Elegance and Art

This book is a surprising wealth of information as well as just a book of beautiful pictures. Gallagher is a translator who lives in Tokyo and has gone to lengths to research realistic information on geisha society.

As well as wonderful portraits of geisha and maiko the book includes structural sections showing how traditional dress fits together making it an ideal purchase for the costumier as as well as the geisha aficionado. Probably my pick of the picture books on the market.


Geisha & Maiko of Kyoto: Beauty, Art, & Dance

Focussing on four women in Gion this book is a more structured picture book with images taken at Kyoto dances with portrait sessions showing dance forms. This shows more of the art of geisha than just the costumes.




Geisha: Beyond The Painted Smile

This book was released to accompany a museum exhibit and has a slight catalogue history element to it.

Vintage through to modern photos are displayed along with analysis of traditional dress. It also includes a large array of ukiyo-e pictures showing historical geisha to counterpart the photography.

A great buy for the art and museum lover.

The Kimono of the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru

This is another museum catalogue style book showing vintage photos of Ichimaru and a photo collection of her kimonos.

The book is biographical in nature with stories of Ichimaru’s rise and career as well as her costume collection

Geisha : A Living Tradition

Aihara is a journalist who spent some time following geisha in Kyoto, some of her photos in this book will be familiar as having been used in other geisha books.

A break down of traditions and how they affect dress are included – some great pictures of dressing and makeup are included.

Not a wonderfully written book but definitely pretty.