HIST 3113 essay FINAL.docx - Marquez 1 Transformation of the Geisha in Post-War Japan Written by Julia Marquez HIST 3113 14835 Dr Justin Olmstead

HIST 3113 essay FINAL.docx - Marquez 1 Transformation of...

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Marquez 1 Transformation of the Geisha in Post-War Japan Written by Julia Marquez HIST 3113 - 14835 Dr. Justin Olmstead
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Marquez 2 When Japan opened for trade to the outside world in the nineteenth century, its feudal military had samurai soldiers. That fact is perplexing to a westerner’s point of view, as the United States during the same period of time had a long list of technological innovations and was far be- yond the days of sword-fighting in battle. Japan has made incredible strides towards modernity, yet their media still holds close to what so uniquely was rooted in their culture. To the people of Japan, tradition was and remains to be an important foundation of their beliefs, and the roles an individual fulfills, as their ancestors did before them. The geisha, a common role in traditional Japanese culture, had almost gone extinct as the necessity for the entertainers was replaced with the need for factory workers during World War II. Today, while novels such as Memoirs of a Geisha promote a better idea of the career during that era, western influence still misconstrues what exactly the profession entails. American icons like Madonna exhibit to her fan base what she then called her “geisha phase” cheapening the lifelong profession into a sexualized fantasy one could adorn when trying to make a statement. With the aid of primary sources from the American journalists and former geisha, as well as monographs from scholars specializing in pre and post-war Japan, this research intends to inspect the geisha’s profession after the arrival of the Allied Occupation and speculate the influence of western culture on the tradition’s popularity leading into the 21st century. The research for this paper would be for naught were it for the crucial work put together by the 20th and 21st century’s brightest scholars within their respective fields. Crucial concepts for this research topic came from scholars such as Jennifer Coats, whose focus talks primarily of the American influence in post-war Japanese film, and both Stanley and Elizabeth Burns, whose photographs of nineteenth century geisha built the foundation for the intended timeline of re- search. 1 2 Cynthia Gralla became another influence as her work focuses within the pleasure quar- 1 Jennifer Coats, Making Icons: Repetition and the Female Image in Japanese Cinema, 1945-1964 ( Hong Kong University Press, 2016). 2 Stanley B. Burns, Elizabeth A. Burns, Geisha: A Photographic History, 1872-1912 (powerHouse Books, 2006).
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Marquez 3 ters in which courtesan and geisha committed their work, as well as medical details surrounding the profession’s health concerns. 3 Some scholars have worked among geisha, such as Liza Dalby; she continues to be an important scholar due to the extensiveness of her accounts as well as first- hand exposure by becoming an honorary geisha in the after-effect of post-war economic boom.
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