Autobiography of a Geisha

ISBN-10: 0231129513

ISBN-13: 9780231129510

Edition: N/A

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The glamorous world of big-city geisha is familiar to many readers, but little has been written of the life of hardship and pain led by the hot-springs-resort geisha. Indentured to geisha houses by families in desperate poverty, deprived of freedom and identity, these young women lived in a world of sex for sale, unadorned by the trappings of wealth and celebrity. Sayo Masuda has written the first full-length autobiography of a former hot-springs-resort geisha. Masuda was sent to work as a nursemaid at the age of six and then was sold to a geisha house at the age of twelve. In keeping with tradition, she first worked as a servant while training in the arts of dance, song, shamisen, and drum. In 1940, aged sixteen, she made her debut as a geisha. "Autobiography of a Geisha" chronicles the harsh life in the geisha house from which Masuda and her "sisters" worked. They were routinely expected to engage in sex for payment, and Masudas memoir contains a grim account of a geishas slow death from untreated venereal disease. Upon completion of their indenture, geisha could be left with no means of making a living. Marriage sometimes meant rescue, but the best that most geisha could hope for was to become a mans mistress. Masuda also tells of her life after leaving the geisha house, painting a vivid panorama of the grinding poverty of the rural poor in wartime Japan. As she eked out an existence on the margins of Japanese society, earning money in odd jobs and hard labor -even falling in with Korean gangsters -Masuda experienced first hand the anguish and the fortitude of prostitutes, gangster mistresses, black-market traders, and abandoned mothers struggling to survive in postwarJapan. Happiness was always short-lived for Masuda, but she remained compassionate and did what she could to help others; indeed, in sharing her story, she hoped that others might not suffer as she had. Although barely able to write, her years of training in the arts of entertaining made her an accomplished storyteller, and "Autobiography of a Geisha" is as remarkable for its wit and humor as for its unromanticized candor. It is the superbly told tale of a woman whom fortune never favored yet never defeated.
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Book details

List price: $24.95
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 6/1/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 216
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.550
Language: English

Sayo Masuda died in 2008.G. G. Rowley teaches English and Japanese literature at Waseda University in Tokyo. She is the author of Yosano Akiko and The Tale of Genji.

Translator's Introduction
A Little Dog, Abandoned and Terrified
Little Crane the nursemaid
The eyes of the oxen glow in the dark
I, too, had a mother
The Sunburned Novice
The dream palace
Geisha school
I want to be a geisha, right now
My four "Elder Sisters"
The death of Elder Sister Takemi
The hot iron
The scar
I learn my name
Cruel rules
I devote myself to art
Miss Low Gets Wise
Shallow river
A secret place
The new novice
The sleep-with-anyone geisha
How to be cute and sexy
Bird in a Cage
My first customer
The geisha temperament
Thou shalt not love
In the party business
Tip taker
Tsukiko's suicide
Awakening to Love
Number Two and Number Three
Tricks of the love trade
The witcher bewitched
True love
Attempted suicide
Wanderings of a Castaway
No place to call home
A brother's love
Tears of humiliation
War's end
The dumpling-soup diner
A Dream for My Little Brother
Beautiful eyes
Street stall
Gang moll
Little Foundling
Seven funerary laths
The Depths of Despair
My little brother's suicide
Return to Suwa
Happy days
Farewell banquet
Love's anguish
Happiness and unhappiness
Wandering between life and death
The Road Back to Life
Innocent smile
Vain dreams
The Prostitution Prevention Act
Cats' paws
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