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Memoirs of a geisha

Samurai, geisha, tea ceremony, Japanese festivals, weddings - learn about Japanese history and tradition.

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annie
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Postby annie » February 6th, 2007 8:54 am

Am I the only person who hated the book?

Okay, hate might be a strong word, but I don't like fiction that pretend to be non-fiction. And some white guy writing about the geisha experience kind of turned me off.

I have yet to meet a Japanese person who thought the movie was good. (I still haven't seen it, as 1800yen plus train fare was far more than I was willing to pay for a theater ticket)

If you're really interested in geisha, check out Geisha by Liza Dalby. She's an American anthropologist who, for her graduate research, studied to become a geisha in Kyoto. Her novel The Tale of Murasaki is also a good read. (Murasaki, as in Murasaki Shikibu, the woman who wrote The Tale of Genji.

Ulver_684
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Postby Ulver_684 » February 21st, 2007 12:03 pm

Welcome back Annie-san we miss you specially me! :wink: 8)

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Bueller_007
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Postby Bueller_007 » February 21st, 2007 3:59 pm

annie wrote:Am I the only person who hated the book?

Didn't read the book, but the movie bit the big one.

Okay, hate might be a strong word, but I don't like fiction that pretend to be non-fiction. And some white guy writing about the geisha experience kind of turned me off.

I believe I heard that the former geisha he interviewed for information sued him. (For misrepresentation or plagiarism or something.) But I could be imagining that.

I have yet to meet a Japanese person who thought the movie was good.

They're just irked that there was a Chinese actress playing a GEISHA. It's not like this was an average Japanese woman, which still would not have pleased them any... It was a GEISHA... She didn't even look remotely Japanese.

Sanosuke
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Postby Sanosuke » June 15th, 2007 9:28 pm

For an accurate account of what it was like to be a hotsprings Geisha, try Sayo Masuda's "Autobiography of a Geisha". She was sold to a geisha house at age 12.

She didn't learn to read or write until she was an adult, and this book originated from an article Masuda-san sent to a Japanese women's magazine in the late 50's.
Nothing glamorized here folks, parts of her story are so heartwrenching that I had to put it down several times and come back later.
I really admire this lady, if you read the book, you'll understand why.

P.S. Memoirs of a Geisha? The book was enjoyable, the movie was poo on toast. I agree with everyone else that the modern, stylized dance was utterly ridiculous.
One of my favorite movies (and a sad one...) about Geisha is Kurosawa's The Sea is Watching. (Umi wa Miteita)

untmdsprt
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Postby untmdsprt » June 16th, 2007 4:19 am

Liked the book, but didn't really care for the movie. Why did they get Zhang Ziyi for the lead? Is there not a Japanese actress that is just as beautiful and talented? But then again not too many Americans can tell the difference.

It's also too Hollywood. I doubt they could've made it better by having Japanese audio with English subtitles, but at least the actors would have sounded more natural.

attwad
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Postby attwad » June 27th, 2007 8:38 pm

When I talked about the book and the movie with my teacher he said he had a great laugh watching it... As for the 7 samuraï... They are both way off from what the "real past of Japan" was, they're seen through the eyes of strangers who don't know many things about Japan and of course romanced so they can't be picturing the reality...
Well that was about what he said ;) He is usually a very calm and gentle person but when speaking how non natives see Japan he can become kind of irritated :roll:
I personnaly have read only the book I didn't see the movie, but the feeling I had while reading it was that this book doesn't try to draw an historical portrait of Japan at that period but it was more like a commom "slice of life book". Still I enjoyed it ;)

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Postby JockZon » August 8th, 2007 11:31 pm

Well I don't really know why those japanese people says it's wrong, they had several japanese people on the set teaching etc. Anyway, I don't care if it's accurate or not, I love the mood and feeling it created. I am going to buy and read that book when I can.

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Postby ar1257 » October 22nd, 2007 4:27 am

I've read the book, but I refuse to see the movie, for many of the reasons already listed. I did a big, long research paper on geisha for my Women in Japanese History class last year, and Iwasaki, Masuda, and Dalby were valuable sources. Another good nonfiction book I used is Women of the Pleasure Quarters by Lesley Downer, which is one of the most recent sources I've found, aside from a dissertation my professor pointed out to me (which may eventually become a book).

On a related note, now that I've learned a bit of the historical background of The Last Samurai (the Satsuma Rebellion), I don't dislike it as much. Having Tom Cruise's character meet Emperor Meiji in person has got to be utter fabrication, though. I mean, I'm no expert, but I'm under the impression that no Joe Schmoe Gaijin can just waltz unannounced into a private meeting with the emperor, regardless of what he did.
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Postby Tinkerbell » July 26th, 2008 8:15 pm

Personally I love the book, but mostly for sentimental reasons, as this was the book that got me interested in Japan and all that goes along in the first place.
I must agree with annie that Geisha by Liza Dalby is a must read if you are interested in Geisha

One of the main reasons the movie annoy me is that every one I have showed it too come out thinking Geisha were prostitutes. No exception. Which makes me have to explain to them that they are not. Also, everyone seems to think Sayuri is a real person. I can see where the confusion comes from, seeing as in the foreword of the book the fictional author claims that is writing down her words. Only reason I know differently is because I am a cover-to-cover person and have read the after word as well, where he admits the book is fiction.
The modern dance really irked me, and the fact that they wrapped the kimono funeral style throughout the movie also annoys me, seeing as things as small as that could easily have been corrected. The make up is wrong too, and the fact that Hatsumomo spends over half the movie with her hair down, which would have been impossible, seeing as they waxed it into place. Blah.
But as I am told over and over by everyone around me, movies are not books, and they are not documentaries. They should be seen as something entirely different from the book/reality they were based on. Still annoys me thou...

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Postby Liz21 » July 26th, 2008 8:31 pm

[the fact that they wrapped the kimono funeral style throughout the movie also annoys me, seeing as things as small as that could easily have been corrected.]

Are you sure about this? I just looked at some stills from the movie. The left side of the kimono folds over the right side. Isn't that correct?[/quote]

Tinkerbell
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Postby Tinkerbell » July 26th, 2008 8:38 pm

I might be mixed up. I need to look it up... Actually it's not a personal observation, I was told about this, and I never really got around to checking if it was right, I might have been annoyed for no reason. I should have looked it up before I wrote it maybe... =j

Liz21
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Postby Liz21 » July 26th, 2008 8:41 pm

Tinkerbell-san,
Don't worry! It's an interesting question. And, I think some of your other points about the movie were excellent. I enjoyed the emotional aspects of the movie, the colors, etc., but I am aware of the inaccuracies. The casting of Sayuri really disturbed me . . . should have been Japanese!

Tinkerbell
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Postby Tinkerbell » July 26th, 2008 8:51 pm

Yes, I agree. There are lots of amazing Japanese actors, but Hollywood wants familiar. Ziyi Zhang is a very good actress, but she was wrong for the role.
Also I think it's stupid that the opening scene where Chiyo and Satsu are driven away they speak Japanese, and the rest of the movie they speak a horrible broken English. They should at the very least stick to one language. Preferable Japanese I think, but Americans don't like subtitles (or so I've been told), and Hollywood makes movies first and foremost for the American audience.
One thing I do find quite impressive thou is that they built most of Gion in the studio instead of filming it in Kyoto. They apparently did so because Kyoto has changed so much since they 40s. I don't know accurate it ended up looking, but at least they tried.

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Postby Belton » July 26th, 2008 10:45 pm

I believe Mineko Iwasaki may have sued Auther Golden over his book.
http://www.tomcoyner.com/a_woman_scorned.htm

Her autobiography Geisha of Gion is worth reading.

For a different take on geisha I really recommend Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda
http://www.shiawase.co.uk/2008/03/05/so ... -a-geisha/

It wasn't all dancing and tea ceremonies.


Interestingly Liza Dalby was a consultant on the film and taught the 2 child actors how to play the shamisen. Her book East Wind Melts the Ice devotes a section to it. She wasn't happy with the American aesthetic used for Geisha, comparing it to a sushi sandwich. Apparently she had a hard time teaching Japanese body language and manners to the lead actresses. Who found them fussy and the kimono over restricting.

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Postby Taurus » July 29th, 2008 8:03 am

annie wrote:Am I the only person who hated the book?


Nope. I thought it was terrible.


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