"The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

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"The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Post by IG Team » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:39 pm

Immortal Geisha:

"The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Have any of you guys read this book? If so, tell us what you thought of it.

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Re: "The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Post by IG Team » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:39 pm

Chrome Kamuro:

Hi, all...I just finished reading this book, and while I didn't find any new information about Geisha, I did find it to be an informative history lesson. The pictures of both woodblock and modern-day Tayu and Maiko were definitely worth the price of admission! I felt like the author downplayed the roles and social status of the upper echelon geisha, and gave more insight into the lives of the more common geisha. I personally appreciated the eye-opener. Although I was left feeling a little down about the uncertain future of these remarkable and fascinating women, I would read the book again and enjoy it just as much the second time around. I'd love to hear the opinion(s) of anybody else who might've read it.

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Re: "The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Post by IG Team » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:40 pm

Immortal Geisha:

I quite enjoyed reading this book myself - and I do use it quite a bit in researching for the website, although I do have to say - with having read the amount of vintage and some of the more modern books that I have - that a lot of the historical information in this book is "second hand" - in that if you have read either Dalby's or some other vintage books previously - you wont learn anything new.

What I think I enjoyed the most about this particular book was her personal experience in meeting the geisha and maiko. That I thought was a bit more of an interesting look into the life of the modern geisha, and as Deb said - it was a bit of an eye-opener...and kind of good to know that despite all the make-up, clothing and the like, that they are real people underneath.

Also, what I found VERY interesting - and the only other books I had ever seen this mentioned in from what I recall was A.C. Scott's book -"The Flower and Willow World" and a very fleeting mention in Kyoko Aihara's book- "Geisha, a Living Tradition" was the fact that there is a small group of women, in Shimabara, that continue on the traditions of "Tayu" (the highest class courtesans from the old pleasure quarter days). Of course, with prostitution being illegal in Japan - they don't continue that side of the tradition, but rather the arts and culture side.

Naomi~

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Re: "The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Post by IG Team » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:40 pm

Emi-chan:

I finally finished this book about 5 minutes ago. I really enjoyed it! (I wish there was more so I could continue reading it) It gave me a much better understanding of the geisha world and the interesting heiarchy between the geisha communities.

I also really liked how Downer included geisha songs in each title of the book.

It's pretty obvious she did a lot of work and research, and honestly I think some of this information she probably would not have been privy to had she not been a woman. It's also interesting how she continously sites the distinction of the past with the present, and even though at the end the conclusion seems to be a little sad, she ends it with a high note.

One thing that was interesting was when downer mentioned certain communities actually supporting the geisha so they could continue their work. I thought this was really cool. :)

I also liked how Downer made distinctions between the geisha classes, but still touched base on their personal side to the story.


And I agree with Naomi on the interviews as well! (a major plus of this book) Especialy those with the Maiko, it gave you a very interesting insight on why modern Japanese girls would choose to become Maiko.

--Emi-chan

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Re: "The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Post by IG Team » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:41 pm

Marc28ct:

Hello everyone...

I am currently reading "Women of the Pleasure Quarters" and I love it...

There was one short paragraph that I kept reading over and over again... The author is talking about when she sees a Tayu and actually gets to talk to her...

She then describes how she enters a room and performs...

She said a Tayu lives in the shadows and describes how her performance and attitude differ froma Geisha...

I was so intrigued...

Any more info on them?

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Re: "The Women of the Pleasure Quarters" by Leslie Downer

Post by IG Team » Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:41 pm

Chrome Kamuro:

There's not near enough info available for my taste either, Marc28ct.

Wasn't the photo of the kneeling tayu breathtaking? I've dog-eared the hell out of that book just going back and looking at the pictures!

Check out my post in books and media entitled 'Tasukete' if you want a chuckle. I'm obsessed with oiran and tayu.

(and I know at least I'm in good company here) :wink:

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