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Ever since Westerners arrived in Japan, they have been intrigued by Japanese womanhood and, above all, the geisha. The real, hidden history of the geisha — and the contemporary reality of this intensely private and disappearing world — is here fully and brilliantly explored by an award-winning writer. By speaking to geishas and those who spend time with them, the author gives a well-rounded portrait, which is at times unsettling and at others enthralling.
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Ever since Westerners arrived in Japan, we have been intrigued by geisha. This fascination has spawned a wealth of fictional creations from Madame Butterfly to Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha". The reality of the geisha's existence has rarely been described. Contrary to popular opinion, geisha are not prostitutes but literally "arts people".
These men both advised and entertained their lord and came to be known as doboshu 'comrades'who were also tea ceremony connoisseurs and artists. By the 16th century, they became known as otogishu or hanashishu story tellerswhere they focused on story telling, humour, conversation. They were sounding boards for military strategies and they battled at the side of their lord.
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In the post era, some 5, women were chosen to service American and Allied troops stationed in occupied Japan under the Command of General Douglas McArthur. At the time there were known brothels in Tokyo alone, with 8, prostitutes. British author, Lesley Downer delves deep into geisha domain, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and its evolution to modern-day life in Japan.
British journalist Lesley Downer spent 10 years in Japan, gaining entrance to the geisha's secretive world by studying its history and earning the trust of its present-day inhabitants. I belong to the statistically insignificant minority of readers who failed to enjoy Arthur Golden's mega-bestselling novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. Why should I trust some young whippersnapper from Chattanooga, Tenn.