The article narrates the life of a geisha and the role that they play in Japanese society and culture. Geishas represent the Japanese culture. The image of a geisha dancing or playing a musical instrument is a cultural metaphor tied up with the Japanese. Books, movies, posters, pictures, and forms of art and literature directly related to the Japanese culture involve stories and images of the geisha. Although most people see geishas and think about Japan, they do not really know the kind of life that geishas live.
Some people say geishas are prostitutes, while some others say they are works of art. In part, the article reveals the concept of mizuage, which is clearly a form of prostitution. As the author continued to write, the life of a geisha, however, was represented to be a life of mastery and perfection of art. Geishas were roughly trained to play the shamisen, to put on make up and dress properly called iki, or to dance and sing gracefully and wonderfully. Geishas are looked upon for fashion, beauty and grace. Geishas epitomize the Japanese woman and the culture.
The life of the geisha is entirely dedicated to art and beauty, and this image remains to live as geishas continue to represent the culture and the nature of the Japanese society. The article remains to be on the middle ground when used to answer the issue regarding geishas being prostitutes or art forms. Although this article leans toward the idea of the life of a geisha as a life of mastery and perfection of art, the concept of mizuage was explicated, revealing the other side of the geisha life, which is prostitution.
Japan, located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Asian Continent, is a nation composed of almost 7,000 islands, many are small. The four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Japan has the seventh largest population in the world. With approximately 125 million inhabitants, the only countries with a higher population are China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and ...
Moreover, the idea of seduction was implicitly embedded on the concept of the geisha life. The mizuage is a fee paid by a man to the Okiya mother as payment for a geisha’s virginity. The highest bidder among the men shall be the one to pay for it. The physical appearance of the geisha is also intended to seduce men, by wearing thick make-up and long dresses. These ideas written in the article suggest that geishas were indeed prostitutes. However, the author continues to reiterate the art and beauty in the life in the geisha.
They represent the Japanese culture and society, and have undergone numerous experiences apart from the geisha life during the war, encounter with the western culture, and the changes that come along with modernity. Ultimately, this article is a good source of unbiased information answering the question whether geishas are prostitutes or art forms, and narrates how geishas have transformed from the traditional to the modern woman of Japan. This impartiality becomes the strength of the article, and sets it apart from the other articles that shall be reviewed in the following pages.
Furthermore, this article is a good source for presenting both sides of the issue in class. Shelton, Chrystine & Makela, Lee A. “The History of Geisha and Their Role in Japanese Society and Culture. ” Contemporary Japan in Perspective. Google Scholar. 28 April 2008. 12 October 2003. < http://scholar. google. com. ph/scholar? hl=en&lr=&q=%22The+History+of+Geisha+and+Their+Role+in+Japanese+Society+and+Culture%22&btnG=Search>. Geisha (Book Review) by Takie Sugiyama Lebra The article is a review of the book “Geisha” written by Liza Crihfield Dalby, who went to Japan to experience the life of a geisha.
Through training, she became a geisha, primarily because of her knowledge of shamisen, and was accepted in the east as one of the most prominent geishas of all time. Dalby was a Japanese language speaker and she has been learning the art of shamisen since she was still young. She stayed in Japan for a year and four months, in order to experience the geisha life and later write a book the describes how it is to become a geisha. According to Dalby, the geisha must be able to carry out two roles during geishahood. The first one is being able to train and obtain comprehensive and excellent skills in dancing and music.
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The second one is training to be able to entertain male guests in the teahouses. Geishas are well respected and looked upon as models of society and icons of success. Geishas are also the epitomes of fashion and glamour. In tea houses, the role of geishas are to accompany men, pour sake while they dine, and entertain the male guests through stories and dance or musical presentation. Although the image and the purpose of the geisha are limited to these concepts, geishas are being tied to prostitution because of history.
However, geishahood remains to be decent and productive as a representation of the Japanese culture and artistry. The viewpoint of the review, as based on Dalby’s experiences, implied that the life of a geisha is not learning towards prostitution. This is because of the fact the role of geisha is explicated in terms of politics, family and marriage. The image of geishas as prostitutes dates back to history when women use the concept of geishahood in becoming courtesans. However, the true essence of being a geisha relies on artistry and knowledge.
Apparently, geishas get involved with politics because of their relationship with men who hold powerful positions within society. Geishas are allowed to fall in love with men they like, and they can switch roles and opt to leave geishahood in order to become teahouse managers, mistresses, or wives. This article encourages the reader to look through the book that Dalby wrote in order to gain first hand information about the geisha life. If there is one person who can answer the question of whether geishas are prostitutes or art forms, Dalby would be the likely suspect.
The review was able to sum up all the ideas narrated in the book and include added information about the important role the geishas play in society. What makes this article stand out between the two articles is that it reiterates the meaningful roles of geishas as they become involved with politics, the family and the married life. Although there was somewhat a connotation of geishas being involved with sexual activity, the article tries to focus on the essence of being a true geisha, sans the malice.
Beneath the concrete layers and behind the flashing neon signs lies a memory of another Japan, one defined by scented fans, mannered dances and the haunting echo of a shamisen stringed instrument. Arthur Golden, author of the meaningful book, Memoirs of a Geisha, offers readers an entry to this old time. Golden's novel actually takes place in a country rapidly industrializing for the coming World ...
This is important in presenting the class with meaningful information the elevates an individuals’ ideas and perceptions of the geisha. What I mean is that, if the first article concentrates on the glamour and artistry there is in geishahood, this review delves deeper into the geisha world and acknowledges the meaning and significance of being a geisha as a member of society. Lebra, Sugiyama Takie. “Geisha. ” Liza Crihfield Darby. Pacific Affairs, Vol. 57 No. 4. University of British Columbia. 28 April 2008 < http://www. jstor. org/stable/2758733>. Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan by Cecilia Segawa Seigle
The book, written by Seigle, talks about prostitution beginning from the history of Japan. The book starts to describe the concept of prostitution and how it all started in the country, and its connection to the Yoshiwara geisha. Although the book talks about courtesans and prostitutions, the book denies geishahood as a form of prostitution. Geishas in the past were both men and women, who were skilled in playing a musical instrument, dancing, and repartee. They were dressed conservatively yet fashionably and groomed neatly. Courtesans were the complete opposite of the geishas.
They were vulgarly dressed and were hired by men for sexual interactions. The book narrated the geishas were simply employed in teahouses in order to accompany and entertain the customers, but is only limited to decency and conservativeness. Due to their artistic skills and knowledge in engaging conversations, the geishas during that time became more popular than the courtesans. This ushered the connection between the geisha life and prostitution as more and more courtesans who cannot compete with the geishas learned the art of playing musical instruments and dancing.
Although at that time, the geisha and the courtesan were almost similar in acquired skills, one would notice the geisha from the other just by looking at the clothes and the manner of grooming. The book clearly states the distinction between being a geisha and a courtesan. The book claims the non-involvement of geishas to prostitution. According to the author, geishas were all about artistry and entertainment, and not engaging in sexual activity for money. The book creates a distinction between prostitution and geishahood.
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Unlike the two articles previously discussed, the book suggests that the image of geishas is not tinted with prostitution and vulgarity as opposed to what most people think. Although the title of the book suggests prostitution and the life of courtesans, geishas were not considered to be part of the group, and were actually responsible for the decline of the popularity of courtesans. Interestingly enough, the fame and popularity of geishas downplayed the prominence of courtesans during that time.
Perhaps, Japanese men wanted more meaning and sense out of the women who accompany them in teahouses, such as entertainment and sensible conversations. The book is effective enough to point out why geishas are different from courtesans and why they should not be related to prostitution. The book reiterated the role of geishas to be connected with art and skills. If the first article talked about the glamour in geishahood, and the second article talked about the meaning in the geisha life, the book talks about the real roles of geisha.
It ties up all the ideas from the two articles and the book itself to form one unifying idea that geisha is not prostitution. Although the two articles remain to imply the prostitution in the geisha life, the glamour, the meaning, and the important role of being a geisha still remains to be the most significant image that geishahood is trying to portray. Seigle, Cecilia Segawa. “Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan. ” University of Hawaii Press. Questia Media America, 310 pgs. , 1993. 28 April 2008 < http://www. questia. com/read/596793>.