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Geisha discussion subjects?

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Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby pubju » Thu 09.27.2007 7:41 pm

Me and my partner have decided to do our oral presentation about Geishas, but neither of us know much about them... (we chose it purely because we both agreed it would be an interesting topic to research)

It's for a degree, so the presentation has to be 15 min long and we have to focus on a specific point of view or an idea to explore. I was thinking something along the lines of how the role of geishas have changed over the years...

Can anyone think of any interesting topics / discussions regarding Geisha that we could possibly do a presentation on?
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 09.27.2007 9:07 pm

One interesting one that's probably beyond the scope of a 15 minute presentation is the conflict between the idealized picture of geisha that appears in some literature, and particularly in Western perceptions, vs. the more probably reality of what geisha actually have been historically, which is basically prostitutes. Wikipedia's opening article says "Contrary to popular opinion and stereotypes, geisha are not prostitutes and do not engage in sexual activity as part of their job" but this is a description of modern "cultural icon for tourists" geisha, and doesn't really apply to the full span of geisha history.
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby keatonatron » Fri 09.28.2007 4:37 am

Next time you might want to start off by saying it's for school (is it?). The line "Me and my partner have decided to do our oral presentation" had me a little worried for a bit there.



Ahhh, SCHOOL partner!
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby pubju » Fri 09.28.2007 8:26 am

すみません、
i meant university partner, ごめんあさい!

Problem is ...there aren't many books about Geisha in our library. Plenty of books on Kimonos though. We only have 5-6 weeks to do this, so we need to decide on a good title soon...
Last edited by pubju on Fri 09.28.2007 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 09.28.2007 8:43 am

if you lack library resources, use the internet. google geisha and go to town.
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Hatori » Sun 09.30.2007 9:17 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
...the more probably reality of what geisha actually have been historically, which is basically prostitutes.

You took the words RIGHT out of my mouth... :@ ;)
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby pubju » Mon 10.01.2007 2:20 am

Mmmmm, but most sites I've looked at say Geisha were forbidden from being prostitutes - do you know any places where I can find more information about geisha prostitution in history?
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby xx-GaCkT-xx » Mon 10.01.2007 2:43 am

I always thought you could tell the difference between a japanese prostsitute (in history anyway) and a geisha because the prostitutes tied their obi at the front...
I don't know if this will help but here you go.
http://www.japan-zone.com/culture/geisha.shtml
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby StarvingMusician » Mon 10.01.2007 4:23 am

Geisha, PROSTITUTES?! I mean, c'mon...They ARE entertainers, and they would: dance, pour tea, play their instrument, and use the art of conversation. Most Geisha's main goals were to buy their freedom. And of course, when desired by a man for their virginity, their body would go to the highest bidder. And if they were lucky enough, one of these guys would support them with money and gifts. Once WWII started, skill and art were thrown out the window and just about every japanese woman that did prostitution would call themselves Geisha. There's a movie and a book that might help you. 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. Check it out.
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Infidel » Mon 10.01.2007 4:52 am

I can't believe MoaG is being cited as a source. I mean, what part of Fiction is so hard to understand. It might not hurt to note that a geisha cited a HIS source sued him for defamation of character.

Last Samurai is next. The only reason Japan still retains their culture and didn't become totally Americanized is because we had a Rogue soldier there that personally reminded the Emperor of the virtues of the Samurai spirit.
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 10.01.2007 8:56 am

If you read very early Meiji novels and short stories, coming out of the "demimonde" of Kyoto, they portray the Geisha lifestyle as essentially codified prostitution. Yes, they were also expected to play music, sing, and serve food/drink. But at the end of the day, sex was expected from them as well. I trust what the Japanese themselves wrote about their culture much more than a foreigner writing a novel, who got sued by the subject he supposedly used for his book. (And even in Memoirs of a Geisha, they still paid the Geisha for sex. Just because there is also music and dancing involved, and just because they don't stand around on street corners soliciting, doesn't mean they're not prostitutes.)

It is true that *now*, geisha are not prostitutes, they are primarily tourist attractions and cultural icons like Noh or a temple. This seems to have colored people's perceptions, and native Japanese would certainly like to avoid geisha being perceived as prostitutes. But is that the historical reality?
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Mon 10.01.2007 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Shirasagi » Mon 10.01.2007 10:09 am

Yukiguni (Snow Country) is a good example of the kind of literature Chris is talking about.

It is my impression, FWIW, that geisha were very similar to today's hostess/cabaret club hostesses, although they would absolutely hate the comparison. Essentially you have women paid to be companions, and the extent of that companionship is more or less negotiable. Going to a hostess club doesn't guarantee you sex; the top girls take pride in maintaining a large number of big spending regulars without ever going as far as a kiss. Other girls (derisively referred to as "makura" -- pillows) use their bodies to maintain their customers interest. And still others forgo sexual favors on the whole, but have one "papa" who's a patron/lover/sugar daddy.

I think the same spectrum existed (exists?) in the geisha world, although geisha were of course expected to be much more accomplished and skilled than modern hostesses.

(The novels of Usami Yuu 宇佐美, particularly 「調子のいい女」 and 「FOXY」 provide an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the hostess club world.)
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Kagemaru » Mon 10.01.2007 10:45 am

StarvingMusician wrote:
Geisha, PROSTITUTES?! I mean, c'mon...They ARE entertainers, and they would: dance, pour tea, play their instrument, and use the art of conversation.


High class hookers, and you get what you pay for.

Same goes for the crack hoe with missing teeth, turning tricks on the corner, opposed to the high class escort agencies billing women out for the night and not by the hour or service.


Yudan Taiteki wrote:
It is true that *now*, geisha are not prostitutes, they are primarily tourist attractions and cultural icons like Noh or a temple.


Take a stroll through 祇園 at night, if your purse allows it. They are still very much in service.

StarvingMusician wrote:
Once WWII started, skill and art were thrown out the window and just about every japanese woman that did prostitution would call themselves Geisha. There's a movie and a book that might help you. 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. Check it out.


From the same riveting/historically accurate sources as "The Last Samurai"?
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RE: Geisha discussion subjects?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 10.01.2007 5:52 pm

Are the Gion geisha still providing sexual services, though? I guess I have no first-hand knowledge of that, but it was my impression that nowadays the music/dance/serving food/sake part had come to dominate.
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