In this revealing portrait of geisha society, an expert on Japanese culture provides personal insight into a perpetually enchanting underworld. While Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha" introduced readers to the geisha existence, "Women of the Pleasure Quarters" proves that truth can be even more fascinating than fiction. 25 photos. 15 line ...
In this revealing portrait of geisha society, an expert on Japanese culture provides personal insight into a perpetually enchanting underworld. While Arthur Golden's "Memoirs of a Geisha" introduced readers to the geisha existence, "Women of the Pleasure Quarters" proves that truth can be even more fascinating than fiction. 25 photos. 15 line drawings.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-01-08 Inspired by Arthur Golden's massively popular Memoirs of a Geisha to "meet the real geisha" in the last stronghold of geisha training in Japan, Downer skillfully intertwines her profiles of Kyoto personalities and tea-house customs with a fluidly written geisha history that's unabashedly aimed at a Western audience. Author of On the Narrow Road and The Brothers: The Hidden World of Japan's Richest Family, Downer was no stranger to the country. However, she found the entrance to the "geisha world" heavily guarded. She writes: "I was always an outsider, I could never step through the looking glass." But small successes (finding the right cakes to present to "the mama," a very powerful geisha) and patience eventually won Downer a place at events that are "utterly closed to outsiders." These included an invitation to a young girl's misedashi ("store opening"), the "rite of passage" from trainee to geisha. We also learn, for example, of the distinction that has developed between a prostitute and a geisha (which translates as "arts person"), who undergoes intense and lengthy apprenticeships in dance and music. Written in dynamic, highly readable prose, the book is supported by exhaustive research and a lengthy bibliography. Readers who were as smitten with Golden's geisha as Downer was will find this good companion reading. Photos. (Mar. 6) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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