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  • A Level Coursework

    We found out from our history teacher that we can do 3,500 words on anything you want to do as long as it has a historical debate to it in some form or other. i decieded between:

    "Geisha Legacy Tradition or Slavery?"

    or

    "What caused the Japanese Revolution in 1877 Tradition or Foreign Imperialism?"

    They are very rough ideas but i was wondering has anyone got some good ideas or good questions i could base my coursework round to do with Japan?

    And Criticisms or Comments to do with the two rough questions i put before?

    Many Thanks

    Damian

  • #2
    I think the first one is a far more interesting topic.

    It adresses something that requires you to dig a little deeper. The second one sounds like you could get a decent answer by opening up any given japanese history textbook.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with you, Geisha are far more fasinating to write about and to be honest i never thought of your point about the second title would be in any old Japanese Textbook, while the history of Geisha is far more harder to reasearch.

      While im in college at the moment i decided to write the introduction for both titles so i would liek yours and anybody else's comments ^_^.

      Comment


      • #4
        "Geisha Legacy Tradition or Slavery?"

        The Geisha legacy draws back to 1100 A.D. many Westerns perceive Geishas as prostitutes, and not even many Japanese know what a Geisha really is, a Geisha will accompany people usually wealthy businessmen to parties and entertain them with dances, songs, and conversation. The cost and effort that goes into their cost and training is very high, for instance a Kimono usually goes for about 1,000,000+ yen around 4,500+ for one Kimono. Yet how can someone pay that amount for one kimono? Every Geisha is put into a house, which is owned by Mother, the landlady of the house. She will pay for all of a Geishas training and expenses, yet it is only an investment as the Geisha has to then pay back her whole debt by escorting theirs clients to parties, this builds up an income for Mother, which helps pay for the up keep of the house and it Geisha. In this discussion I will address how the Geisha formed was it due to choice of young women or was it a form of payment for a families debt that these young women had no choice in the Geisha Life.

        Comment


        • #5
          "Geisha Legacy Tradition or Slavery?"

          The history of the Geisha goes back as far as 1100 A.D. Many Westerners perceive Geishas as prostitutes, and not even many Japanese know what a Geisha really is. A Geisha will accompany people, usually wealthy businessmen, to parties and entertain them with dances, songs, and conversation. The cost and effort that goes into their training is very high. For instance, a typical geisha's kimono costs about 1,000,000+ yen (4,500+). Yet how can someone pay that amount for one kimono (This question is irrelevant)? Every Geisha is put into a house, which is owned by Mother, the landlady of the house. She will pay for all of a Geishas training and expenses, yet it is only an investment as the Geisha makes money for the house by escorting their clients to parties. In this discussion I will address how the Geisha became established. Was it due to choice of young women, or was it a means of repaying a family's debt and outside of the control of the future geisha?

          What you say you will talk about does not match up with the question you pose immediately after, nor do either of those concepts match the entire preceeding paragraph. If you want to talk about how women become geisha, pick a time period. Would you refer to the periods when women first represented the majority of the geisha population (as it was originally a men only profession), or to more present day, as an examination of how the tradition is able to sustain itself?

          If you were to choose the question you actually pose (regarding the establishment of the geisha), there is no real debate as you say your assignment requires. Going off of the introduction's path, it seems like you would be more prepared to talk about the purpose of a geisha as opposed to the misperceptions. However, in this too we could find little debate.

          The best solution I can see is to rework the introduction in a way that better represents the question you pose in your final sentence, then rework that final sentence to serve as a proper thesis statement by answering the question it poses.

          Good effort, but needs some reworking. See me after class.

          Comment


          • #6
            Damian,

            I am running out the door, so my apologies if this is rushed...

            I agree with "Twobitmage" that, for me, the first topic is considerably more interesting than the second. While it may seem a bit daunting just now, trust me when I say that 3,500 words is not an aweful lot to say on any subject.

            With respect to the "revolution", you could probably write a million words on this subject as easily as you could a few thousand. You are probably aware, but in terms of some generally available resources, read Arthur Golden's "Memories of a Geisha". It is a novel, but by all accounts is a fairly accurate representation of the coming of age of a Geisha. Also, Mineko Iwasaki's "Geisha, A Life" is great and is in fact a real-life account of one of Japan's most renowned geisha of the 20th century. Both should be available in the local library.

            There is also a Discovery Times Channel (I think?) documentary titled "The Secret World of the Geishas", which is a very interesting hour or so presented by a western woman who lived the life of a geisha for a while; a very different perspective indeed. Also try local Japanese book stores, and of course the dreaded Internet.

            And with all due respect, do have someone proof read your work. It is well worth the extra effort. Things like spelling and grammar will "make or break" you "voice" to your reader. That's why even professional writers have editors, etc., working with them. Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth of advice for this morning. Good luck. No prisoners. Give it hell!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              thanks to both of your comments, spelling and grammer are defiently points i need, proof reading will come in handy lol, i know 3,000 words is not alot i'd like to do alot more but i think i will do another title on Geisha's, have alot of free lessons in the week so i can develop some questions etc then, but many thanks to both your comments :-), any chance i could put my introduction to another title soon? i would like as many opinions as possible :-)

              Many Thanks

              Damian

              Comment


              • #8
                I actually tried to do a version of your second question for my A level coursework, I had to give up. I found that there was hardly any information on the restoration beyond the bare basics. Also of the information I did find, none of it even touched on why it occured.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The uprising in 1877 is commonly called the Satsuma Rebellion (or the 'South Western War' 西南戦争) I believe.

                  In a nutshell I think Japanese Imperialism was the catalyst for this particular conflict.

                  Saigo Takamori was strongly in favour of millitary action against Korea, in order to expand Japanese territory. His long time friend Okubo Toshimichi felt that Japan should not involve itself with a conflict in Korea.

                  As a result Saigo felt shunned and returned to Kagoshima to work with an institue educating and training young men predominantly from Kagoshima's now ex-samurai families. Perhaps from this point on he felt betrayed by the government that he had fought so hard to help establish.

                  Having said this I believe that Saigo was gradually pressured into planning a revolt against the Meiji government. Many men from Satsuma samurai families were highly dissatisfied with recent social reforms.

                  I think Saigo understood that there was little chance of victory against a unified Japanese government force, and also that further conflict would be costly and could be damaging for Japan as a nation in the long term.

                  None the less, he put aside his reservations and led his troops to Kumamoto.

                  Foreign imperialism in Japan in the late Edo / early Meiji period was certainly responsible for kick starting many events that changed the face of Japan. However I think that the Satsuma Rebellion was really a dispute related to internal Japanese politics.

                  People in the South, especially Satsuma had never been as fanatical supporters of 'sonno-joi' as the men from Tosa or Choshu. Perhaps their minds were opened to internationalisation after the war between Satsuma and England.

                  Right I'll stop rambling now.

                  I am rekishi otaku I think....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with others who have provided opinion on "Geisha Legacy: Tradition or Slavery?" are subjects which require much deeper thinking than simplified Western media view.
                    As for tradition, it is. As legacy, popularity to become involved slowly is vanishing, as other Japanese traditions also are, with an example of Kendo and Sumo.
                    But I respectfully ask of you; Isn't such a statement already making prejudgment of the idea? Have you decided clearly that Geisha are possible slaves?
                    My feeling is the answer it is not so easily seen.

                    If I may recommend to you a topic, the end of Edo and Meiji period has much controversy and drama.
                    There is a much celebrated Western author in Japan, who wrote about Japan life firsthand by experience during these times. If you have not before read his work, it is a most excellent place to begin.
                    I offer to you Lafcadio Hearn.
                    http://www.trussel.com/f_hearn.htm

                    All the best of good luck to you!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank you ^^,

                      I decided after reading the comments and a few thoughts myself i changed the title of my coursework to:

                      Was the Geisha tradition built on Slavery or Choice?

                      I have done about a page and half if you are intrested i can post it :P

                      Damian

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The history of the Geisha goes back as far as 1100 A.D. Many Westerners perceive Geishas as prostitutes, and not even many Japanese know what a Geisha really is. A Geisha will accompany people, usually wealthy businessmen, to parties and entertain them with dances, songs, and conversation. The cost and effort that goes into their training is very high. For instance, a typical geisha's kimono costs about 1,000,000+ yen (4,500+). Every Geisha is put into a house, which is owned by “Mother”, the landlady of the house. She will pay for all of a Geisha’s training and expenses, yet it is only an investment as the Geisha makes money for the house by escorting their clients to parties. In this discussion I will address the question “Was the Geisha tradition built on Slavery or Choice”.

                        The rise of Geisha known formally as Geiko, were starting to gain in popularity from the 18th Century, in a sense Geisha are among one of the modern aspects of Japan, but never the less added a contributing factor to the mysterious culture many Gaijin (foreigners) still seek to find out. Before the modern era, Men as entertainers or courtesans played Geisha called Hokan, but by 1800 male Geisha’s were in vast decline, the demand for female Geisha’s called ‘Onna Geisha’ were very high. This strong demand by the wealthy population of Japan meant more Geisha needed to be available for entertainment, this leads to my argument as many young girls were sold for a price so that their family could pay off their debts. This ‘kidnapping’ is seen as slavery today, but then it was just a form of payment the idea that the male of the species was far superior and worth more to the family name of honour, while the female of the species could be sold for a price or put in a arranged marriage of connivance to strengthen the family in financial and political ways.

                        Yet “Mother” or the head of a Geisha house could very easily combat this accusation by explaining that the demand of the wealthy in Japan was too much pressure and buy buying poor family’s daughters they could balance this pressure for the demand, also many Gaijin believe that to become a Geisha you put the make up on and play a few songs, this again is completely wrong, the point of a Geisha is the “Art of Conversation”, all Geisha had to be trained up from a very young age in order to learn all the formalities and behaviour, that a Geisha must have, therefore “Mother” could argue that by buying the daughter it firstly helped the girl’s family out of debt and secondly to become a Geisha you must be ‘Perfect’ in everything you do from being perfectly mannered to being able to successfully entertain by playing the Geisha Instrument shamaisen to talking properly, this took years and years of training on average about 12 years to become a Geisha, therefore a girl must be very young in order to learn to live that way of life so it was perfectly normal to ‘kidnap’ or buy a daughter from a poor family and could not be noted as Slavery in any way.

                        “Mother”, who was a Geisha herself and usually had an outstanding career compared to other Geisha in that house, would usually get the inheritance from the previous “Mother” to look after the Geisha house, would have the final decision on bookings, finance and up keep of the house would quite frequently turn girls away from their house if they did not look appropriate or if they did not show respect, these rejected young girls would unfortunately end up in the ‘Pleasure District’, again not by choice for obvious reasons, but to pay off their buy price that the Geisha house paid for her. The ‘lucky’ ones who were still forced to a paradoxical choice of learning to become a Geisha or working in the Pleasure District, stayed in the Geisha house, for their first two years they would work as slaves to the Geisha’s of that house, looking after their Kimono’s, tidying their rooms and after that “Mother” would make sure the house was spotless by ordering the new arrivals to clean after dark when the Geisha’s were away entertaining their clients. This form of slave labour was an essential part to a Geisha’s beginnings, but is argued by many historians to be a harsh timetable with really no rights at all and that forcing a young innocent child to become something that they hardly know or understand is absurd.

                        Yet one could argue that looking after the house and other Geisha’s is an essential part in to becoming a Geisha, “to not know hardship is not to know happiness”. For the unfortunate children who were not picked by “Mother”, again these girls had no choice and would become a Joro (A Prostitute) and put into a brothel, in the near ‘Pleasure District’, but many girls usually tried to run away and disappear.

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