Three Geisha - Kikou Yamata

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Three Geisha - Kikou Yamata

Post by IG Team » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:28 pm

Rogue Angel:

All the posting about geisha books has reminded me to post about Three Geisha, a book I recently read.

This nice old book was written by Kikou Yamata and contains the short biographies of three geisha: Okichi, Okoi, and Tsumakichi. You may have already heard of the first two, as Okichi was the mistress of the American consul Townsend Harris and Okoi was the mistress of Japanese prime minister Katsura. This book was used as a source for Women of the Pleasure Quarters.

I enjoyed all the stories, but this book is quite different from a modern biography of geisha. It was hard to tell (especially with Okichi's story) what was fact and what was romanticized legend. The author writes in a very flowery style and seems to embellish the stories a bit. If you are looking for some interesting pleasure reading about geisha, though, you will probably like this book.

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Re: Three Geisha - Kikou Yamata

Post by IG Team » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:29 pm

Koumitsu:

I agree with Rogue Angel...I really couldn't tell how much of this was fact or fiction either.

There were numerous typos...I think many are from the translation (French to English, some mistakes are from the fact that the translator did not know any Japanese...sometimes titles are used as last names, etc.)...but there is no bibliography? I find this strange...I would think that non-fiction books would have a bibliography even back then? ...but the Library of Congress gives it the call number DS825.Y282 156a ...so since DS is General History of Asia...they think it's non-fiction :)

Sometimes the English was strange...I couldn't immediately decide who they were talking about...the pronouns were vague.

I did enjoy the last story the best. The story of Tsumakichi. Oishi Junkyo (Junkyo is her Buddist name. Yoneko is her given first name. Tsumakichi is her   "geisha name" ) She wrote many books (a few are still in print...) and did many paintings (with her mouth, as she lost her arms...):

Here is some more information about her (in English):
http://www.shambhala.com/zenart/html/ga ... l/z157.cfm

Her picture:
http://www.kanko-osaka.or.jp/pic/sight/02189_04.jpg
(from here: http://www.kanko-osaka.or.jp/eng/sight/ ... func=diary )

Edit: Put space before parentheses to correct link :)

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Re: Three Geisha - Kikou Yamata

Post by IG Team » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:30 pm

setsumomo:


Excerpt from one of those links.....

...In 1905, when Junkyo was seventeen years old, her foster father went berserk, murdered six people with a sword, and chopped off Junkyo's arms....

Oh My! How awful!!!!!

Setsumomo
:wink:

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Re: Three Geisha - Kikou Yamata

Post by IG Team » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:30 pm

Rogue Angel:

Tsumakichi's story almost made me cry. Surely there must be more biographies of her, since it sounded like the tragedy she was involved in was very big news at the time. Probably all the books about her are in Japanese. :( Thanks for the links, Koumitsu!

I thought the brief glimpses of Osaka geisha culture in Tsumakichi's story were fascinating. The district she worked in, Horiye, sounded almost like Yoshiwara with geisha and courtesans working together. I wish there was more written about geisha districts in places other than Kyoto and Tokyo. I remember reading that Osaka used to have a thriving geisha culture, but it died out.

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Re: Three Geisha - Kikou Yamata

Post by IG Team » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:31 pm

Koumitsu:

Well, I found a few books in Japanese, but most of them are out of print. If you are interested, I'll post links to them, but I figured no one wanted to read Japanese. There weren't many web pages in Japanese about her that I could find after a brief search either...

[Broken picture removed]

She looks like a really sweet lady :)

I also wrote to a professor who is teaching a course using her biography. I hope that maybe his email address is still valid and that he will spare some time to tell me which books he's using as a reference. He's probably too busy with his students to answer a random email from the Internet....but I might get lucky :)

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