Annotated Bibliography – The Tales of a Geisha: Pre and Post Imperialism

Memoirs of a Geisha. Directed by Rob Marshall. 2005. Universal City:

Spyglass Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, and Red Wagon Entertainment, 2005. DVD.

This award winning film is based off of the original novel Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This film shows the process that a young girl named Chiyo, later to be named Sayuri, goes through in hopes of becoming a geisha so she is able to reunite with a Chairman she met during her youth. Soon, Sayuri becomes one of the most famous geishas’ in Kyoto. This video displays the life and sacrifices a geisha had to make in order to be successful and gives insight to what happened after World War II, where their whole society and everything they ever knew was destroyed. The most beautiful and known geisha was now just another common worker. Near the conclusion Sayuri has once more become a geisha to impress the American Colonel as a favor to the Chairmen who helped secure her and her guides safety during the war.

Mire, Koikari. “Exporting Democracy?: American Women, “Feminist Reforms,” and Politics of

Imperialism in the U.S. Occupation of Japan, 1945-1952.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 23, no. 1 (2002): 23-35. Accessed February 16, 2012.

This online journal is about how the United States comes into Japan after World War II in hopes of uplifting this fallen nation and giving them the help they desperately need. The U.S. had a number of reform projects for the Japanese, including one that dealt with the women. They believed that mostly these women were sheltered during the war, manipulated by the thought of “nationalistic mothers” and needed to be enlightened. The U.S. mainly sought to take these Japanese women and their minds away from the Eastern culture that was looked at as inferior and introduce them to the Western culture that was superior to all. The American women were mainly put in charge of the task of reforming these, so called, needy Japanese women.

Seigle, Cecilia Segawa, Utamaro Kitagawa, Yoshitoshi Taiso, and Kunichika Toyohara. A

            Courtesan’s Day: Hour by Hour. Amsterdam: Hotei, 2004.

This book gives insight to the beginning of geisha women, which started around 710-94, but does not get noticed officially until around the 1750s by the proclamation of the first geisha woman, Kikuya. Geisha means arts person or artisan so the geishas did not as much sell their bodies, but they sold their entertainment and their presence. Giving insight to the making of a geisha, the process that was needed to go through, we find out that it takes about 6 years for a young girl, usually starting around 15 – 16 to become a geisha. “The Twenty-four Hours at Shinbashi and Yanagibashi  is a valued document within the text that refers to similar situations that geishas would find their selves in daily, along with the geishas life in the “new Japan” after the Great Kantō Earthquake (1923) and World War II. Yet, this historical reference still holds intact the old traditions of the geisha.

Thayer, David Sumner.”The Development of the Geisha and Their Present Status as Symbols of

Japanese Culture, Tradition and Femininity.” Boston University Academy (2008): 1-38. Accessed February 22, 2012.

This scholarly article is about the existence of the geishas and the lasting effects it has upon Japan. It talks of the particular roles women had as they lead from prostitutes and courtesans to geishas. These women have left many impressionable marks upon Japan and have influenced many controversies and political affairs.  The works of these women were to be contained, but somehow found its way into other aspects of life and are now glorified upon Japan and other countries.

“The Difference Between Traditional Geisha’s and Geisha Girls.” News 2 Life in Japan.

January 30, 2011. Accessed February 22, 2012.

This website gives readers a comparison and contrast of the Geisha’s of Japan and the Geisha Girl’s of the U.S. After World War II the art of the geisha began to disappear and the emergence of the false prostitute came into action. These geisha girls, as the American men would call them, would be actually Japanese women, but were not actual geishas’. They would simply dress in the geishas’ attire and entertain and/or sleep with the men. These geisha girls are looked at as glorified prostitutes, only because they take the appearance of a true geisha. Most geisha girls turned to the act of prostitution as a means to survive during the second World War.

Vollmann, William T.  Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement, and Femininity in Japanese

Noh Theater: With some Thoughts on Muses (Especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses, Porn Queens, Poets, Housewives, Makeup Artists, Geishas, Valkyries, and Venus Figures. New York, NY: Ecco, 2010.

This novel yields more so to the questions of women by man. Vollmann takes his personal interest into his own account to figure out the details behind Japanese women. Vollmann takes a comprehensively look at one of Japans most noted crafts, the Noh Theater. We are able to read interviews he has had with women from these entertainment facilities and learn of the traditions held behind the mask that is worn by many women. Vollmann works towards learning the secrets of theatrical femininity and of the alleged beauty in Japan.  This book also gives great visuals of such women that Vollmann describes within his book, letting the readers so for their selves the curiosity Vollmann possesses.






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