The true Memoirs Of Geisha.. what few are left.
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The true lives of these young Girls and Women as heavily appropriated not to mention ripped off by “Memoirs Of A Geisha” of the life of ,Mineko Iwasaki, who in turn created her own true memoir entitled “Geisha, A life” also carrying the title “Geisha of Gion.” The grounds for usage of the term appropriated is due to all would have been merely a novel had Golden not gone on an international radio claiming Mineko had sold her virginity (mizuage) for a “Staggering amount of money” followed by revealing her name in the Acknowledgements section of the novel in which he had promised not to do according to Iwasaki. Survivors of commercial exploitation, rape, etc I never recommend Memoirs to without a trigger warning because it more so tells the story of a Sex Trafficking survivor more or less just on the high class end not that of a Geisha. Albeit Memoirs covered the “Pleasure Quarters” section of the day (brothels essentially) there was truth to it that pleasure quarters were often deemed for the “unfit” or undesirable for Geisha status. In fact Mineko revealed in her life story how she worked along side a Geisha who much like the sister of Chiyo (later became Sayuri in Memoirs Of A Geisha) had actually been sold into the sex trade in the pleasure district as a child. Her name was Yuriko. Much akin to Memoirs Yuriko’s Father had been a fisherman born and lived in the town of Suzushi, on the coast of the Japanese Sea. Like protagonist Chiyo of Memoirs her Mother passed away except not long after Yuriko was born this led into a series of unfortunate events for a child particularly during the war resulting in her Father committing suicide in front of her eyes following a haze of drunkenness due to the bankruptcy of his company — which occurred a great deal to citizens during that time. Her stepmother essentially farmed her out to more relatives who utilized the child as a child labor before selling 12-year-old Yuriko to what were referred to as Zegen (Slave-Traders who went about the countryside seeking out to buy Girls solely for the purpose of selling them into the sex trade) ergo where the young girl found herself in a Pleasure District quarter by the name of Shimabara in Kyoto. This was where the high priced Oiran and Tayu’s resided (high-priced prostitutes and sex trafficking victims of the day.) They like Geisha practiced the arts however where they differed entirely was based on the fact they were paid for sexual acts as well as the reprehensible act of mizuage aka “deflowering” a virgin sold at the highest bidder. Typically young Girls of Yuriko’s age or even younger in some cases. In this young Girl’s case she was eventually recovered by her horrified stepmother. The stepmother was able to intervene and have Yuriko moved to the Okiya in which Mineko worked as a Geisha. Goes to show the act of Sex Trafficking children hasn’t changed all that much anywhere since Yuriko and Mineko’s time. It has always been the same pattern of vulnerability, taking advantage of the disenfranchised, preying on high risk children and young people all to make a profit. If photographs were to be compared of Oiran and Maiko night and day life experience differed than what Geisha had. Anyone could tell they had really been through it not so unlike survivors of sex trafficking today. The sex trade is a horrible unfit world for human life, let alone children. It’s a degrading realm nothing honorable or empowering about it honestly.
Oiran with Yarite and Kamuro 2.jpg
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Japan: Oiran or courtesan with two kamuro or maid attendants, c
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Of course in 1957 Prostitution was made entirely illegal in Japan. Which really declined the ever lessening practice of Oiran and Geisha as subsequently Geisha were grouped in with the Oiran as far as society was concerned. In present day there’s “Love Hotels” and I’m sure in home brothels somewhere but not much else. That’s about it as the price for prostitution and sex trafficking in Japan is high where law is concerned. Anyone caught partaking in human trafficking or prostitution will spend much if not the rest of their lives in prison. They have some of the strictest laws against it for valid reasonings. In fact back in 1998 a Woman was jailed for trying to sell her small daughter to a Geisha house. Needless to say no one else has done so since.
With that said Mineko did recollect on how in the practice of Geisha it really is the illusion of autonomy for those who are in that profession. So much so when young Girls would come to her in askance to become their Onesan she would refuse them. An Onesan is an “older sister” who takes apprentice Geisha referred to as ,Maiko, under their wing for guidance and sponsorship in the world of Flowers and Willows as it’s known as. She would state to these young Girls, “The Nyokoba may be recognized by the Minister of Education as a specialized school, but it will not give you a high school diploma. No matter how hard you apply yourself you will end up where you started: with a junior high school education. You won’t have the academic credentials or qualifications to function in the outside world. Even if you do very well and receive a master certificate from the Inoue School you will not be able to support yourself.” Which is what led to her retirement at age 29 after years of trying to change the system in order to offer Geisha’s a stable life and future as they couldn’t be Geisha’s forever. Most retired in their 20’s and 30’s at the latest inclusively in Mineko’s day. Currently Geisha Houses lawfully can’t accept recruits who have not earned their high school diploma and what few remain will not accept any persons under the aged 18 even with a parental consent.
Geisha, A Life
Geisha, A Life [Iwasaki, Mineko, Brown, Rande] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Geisha, A Life
Of course now there are fewer than 1,000 practicing Geisha in Japan in what at one time numbered in the 100s of thousands mainly due to the vast opportunities available to Girls and Women. The artistic value is beautiful and one hopes it doesn’t die out completely but with the progression of our world specifically in this era of COVID we live in a very contrasting world than prior to. It’s undoubted that the remaining Geisha left are struggling more than ever as they can’t entertain clients. If a legendary Geisha as Mineko found the system oppressive in her day then it’s undoubtedly so by today’s standards.