Gilbreath, Japan
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Geisha, a Life

Geisha, a Life | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
No woman in the three-hundred-year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story -- until now. "Many say I w...
Jen Gilbreath's insight:

Mineko was always more reserved, and didn’t really enjoy being around others. So when she decided to become a geisha, it seemed she had chosen the hardest challenge to overcome. When she was five years old, Mineko Iwasaki moved into the okiya, where she was to begin her training to become a “geisha”, which translates to becoming an artist. When she turned six, Mineko began her artistic training, and quickly fell in love with dance. Nine years later, she became a maiko, a younger form of a geisha. The training was intensive, and some of the residents of the okiya were not so friendly to Mineko, for example, Masako, who was almost jealous of Mineko for coming so far at such a young age, and treated Mineko poorly. Madame Oima was the master of the house, who would need a successor, called an atotori. Soon after joining the okiya, Mineko was assigned to become the atotori. From then on she knew that she wanted to be the best geiko (woman of art) in Gian Kobu, even in the entire country of Japan. She was the hostess of many events, and was the most renowned of her fellow artists. Through hard work and many struggles she persevered, and became what she set out to become. However, she wanted to have a life of her own, and to return to her former self. She decided to retire and marry, but is still the most well known geisha in the history of Japan.

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Geisha Hair Ornaments

Geisha Hair Ornaments | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
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I thought this picture was interesting because in the novel, Mineko talked about the elaborteness of getting dressed to perform. Through my research I learned that not only are there many parts to the hair pieces, they are also coordinated with the seasons. The different hairstyles convey what "class" of geisha the woman is.

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Geisha Makeup

Geisha Makeup | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
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In the book, Mineko talks about the white face makeup she has to wear that resembles a mask. Two lines in a "V" shape are left unpainted on the nape of the neck to symbolize many things. One is purity. Another is that it is a reminder that there is a real person under all the makeup, underneath the "mask." This was an intriguing picture to me because I did not know that they left parts of the neck bare.

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First Ever Western Geisha Leaves The 'Sisterhood' - Telegraph

First Ever Western Geisha Leaves The 'Sisterhood' - Telegraph | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
The first ever Westerner to be admitted to the closed world of Japan's geisha hostesses has left after being accused of bringing the movement into disrepute.
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"Fiona Graham, was the only foreigner in 400 years to be accepted into the ranks of the geisha, whose skills in traditional Japanese dance, poetry and music are a revered part of national culture" (1). She had gone through the majority of training, and had broken into a culture that was considered only open to Japanese women. Being the first Westerner would have been a major breakthrough for the culture, but her attempts proved unsuccessful. She did not follow the traditional customs, did not attend obligatory music and dance classes, and promoted herself more than the sisterhood. "Worst of all, insiders claim, in a world that is built on traditions and adherence to conventions, she refused to show respect to her elders" (1). Overall, it seems that allowing a Westerner to become a geisha was a huge mistake.

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Geishaofjapan.com

Geishaofjapan.com | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
Jen Gilbreath's insight:

This source mainly talks about the roles of geisha. They are booked through their okiya and entertain men through means of conversation, dance, art, and singing. Some play the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument, as well. Dance recitals are common. This site also addresses the relationships between geisha and patrons, which is usually what comes to mind when geisha culture is mentioned. It says that the women made money by taking a patron who would pay for their living expenses in exchange for a more intimate affair. This sometimes resulted in children, who often would end up living in geisha society. Although this is brought up, the source does not stress this relationship between the two as much as the traditions of dance and other forms of art used to entertain.

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BBC Geisha Girl (2005)

The story of Yukina, a 15 year old girl from Kaneyama, who moves to Kyoto to become a Maiko (Apprentice Geisha) and one day a Geiko (full Geisha). We see her...
Jen Gilbreath's insight:

The video was about Yukina, a fifteen year old who, in 2005, decided that she wanted to become a geisha. She left her family behind to travel to Kyoto to the okiya, or geisha house. For the next five months, she was not allowed to call her family, so she sent letters to her mother to let her know what she was up to. Her new "older sister", Kukino, would teach her the proper ways to act in public, and the lifestyle that she would soon have to get acquainted with. Overall, the video showed that Yukina, whose name was later changed to Kikuyu after becoming a maiko, is not that much different than anyone else on the planet. She missed her friends and family like anyone else would. The documentary highlighted the culture and the traditions, but what stood out to me the most was Kikuyu's personality, because she seemed like any other teenage girl.

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Geisha Playing the Shamisen

Geisha Playing the Shamisen | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
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This picture shows a geisha playing the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument used to entertain patrons during parties. Geisha also play drinking games and perform dances to entertain their guests. This relates to the book because Mineko had to go to music lessons. This picture was facinating to me because I did not know what a shamisen was.

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Goodreads: Memoirs of a Geisha

Goodreads: Memoirs of a Geisha | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerles...
Jen Gilbreath's insight:

I would want to read this next because the books are so similar, yet completely different. They are both the personal accounts of geisha, and they both take place in Kyoto's Gian District. However, according to numerous reviews, this book sparks a lot more controvery compared to Geisha, A Life.

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Geisha Establishments Begin Wooing Women

Geisha Establishments Begin Wooing Women | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
Faced with flagging demand from their usual customer base of wealthy male patrons, a number of establishments employing traditional geisha entertainers are enthusiastically courting interest in their services from women.
Jen Gilbreath's insight:

This article is about the geisha establishments gaining popularity with female patrons, which was never the case before. "Last summer, Hamacho, a "ryotei" (traditionally high-class restaurant) in Kochi, began offering women-only group dinner plan accompanied by "ozashiki asobi", or private games with geisha" (1). One of the patrons was quoted as saying that she "still harbored the notion that mingling with geisha was mostly a male preserve" (1), although she enjoyed her time there. This piece states that it is still not completely acceptable to be a female patron, but it is still being done, and the trend is on the rise. Hamacho is hoping that more women will walk through their doors so that the culture will be reinvigorated after the last several years of declines in the geisha community.

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Gion Kobu: Kyoto, Japan

Gion Kobu: Kyoto, Japan | Gilbreath, Japan | Scoop.it
Jen Gilbreath's insight:

Gion Kobu is the most well known geisha district in Kyoto. It is also the biggest of it's kind in Japan, and the most elite. However, the people of this region do not refer to themselves as geisha; They use the term geiko, or "woman of the arts." 

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