Vaughan, Michael (2012) Geisha. Brisbane, QLD, Australia,

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Author Vaughan, Michael
Title Geisha
Place of publication Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Publication date 2012-06-22
Start page 1
End page 24
Total pages 24
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Subject 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts - General
350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
370000 Studies in Human Society
420000 Language and Culture
Original Creative Work - Textual work
Abstract/Summary The Poem is a thematic exploration of the 400 year old, uniquely Japanese, cultural custom and practice of Geisha ('artful person') women. The Poem consists of three sestets of rhyming verse, concluding notes, a prologue, an epilogue and various pictorial illustrations to heighten the meaning of the text. In the 1920s, there were some 80,000 Geisha women. Today, there are only between 1,000 and 2,000. A Geisha is a highly skilled, meticulously trained social hostess who must be expertly proficient in singing, playing musical instruments, literature, poetry, traditional makeup, informal games and polite, well-informed conversation. it is possible for a Geisha to work well into her 80s, having been made an 'apprentice' (or 'maiko') at the tender age of only 15. Geishas are also renowned for their exceptional standard of dress, wearing traditional 'kimonos', most of which take at least two years to make and which cost between A$30,000 and A$80,000. No Geisha is permitted to marry, though, if she does, she must resign from her profession.
Formatted Abstract/Summary
The Poem examines three main aspects of a Geisha's lifestyle - first, the meaning and signficance of the life choice a young girl will make between the ages of 15 and 18; second, the three main  aspects of a Geish'a demanding training, making her a much-sought-after social hostess known as a "butterfly of the east"; and third, the rigorous and detailed ritual and etiquette that is part of this highly structured and disciplined life style. Geishas are experts in the ancient Japanese custom of "OMOTENASHI"  the term given to traditional Japanese hospitality in which no expense and no detail, however small, is overlooked for the comfort of an honoured guest and for which no recompense is expected. The Poem concludes with the decision of MINEKO IWASKAI, Japan's most famous and admired Geisha of the 1970s, when, as an act of free choice, she resigned as a Geisha at the age of 29 - deciding to marry in 1982, have a child in 1983 and to work from that point onward in her life as a painter. The Poem closes with some examples of the often lonely and melancholy songs and poetry of Geisha women down through the centuries.
Keyword Traditional Japanese Entertainment
"Omotenashi" - "Boundkless Hospitality" for an honoured Guest
Musical Instruments - "shamisen", "shakuhachi" and drum
Tea Ceremony and Calligraphy
"Hanamachi" or "Flower Town" - a Geisha's Shared Communal Residence
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown
Additional Notes There is a disturbing and unsettling misconception that the 400 year practice of Geisha is a form of high class prostitution. This is a falsehood, aided by Japanese prostitutes(wrongfully calling themselves in the 1950s "Geisha girls" a completely fabricated minomer)] who serviced the carnal desires of Occupying Soldiers in Japan immediately after 1945. Prostituion in Japan was banned by legislation in 1958.It is true that in the 16th century, the "Yoshiwara" district of Edo (now Tokyo) did have a redlight area and some Geishas would augment their living by providing sexual services for wealthy Samurai or Merchants. The practice, however, did not apply to all Geishas - most of whom refrained from such demeaning activity and remained true to their high and demanding vocation.

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Created: Sat, 23 Jun 2012, 11:30:02 EST by Dr Michael Vaughan on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies