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 Post subject: Mizuage - myth, or reality?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:04 am 
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Shikomi
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I was wondering about the so-called ceremony of mizuage - I think everyone heard about it and a lot of myths grew around it, since 'Memoirs of a Geisha'

Does anyone know is this a myth, or was this ceremony really once performed (for example in the Edo perdiod?).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:20 pm 
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Well, some say it didn't happen, yet some say it did. I'm really not sure. But usually "mizuage" is just when the maiko reaches a certain age and she will change her hairstyle from the Wareshinobu to the Ofuku.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:13 pm 
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When I read the autobiography from Sado Masuda, she clearly said there was a sexual aspect to the mizuage, right through WWII. But, she didn't represent the highest tier of geisha. She is what is kindly referred to as a "Hot-Springs Geisha".

In books I've read, the sexual aspect of the mizuage also took place in the higher tiers of geisha-dom in the past. When I was reading Women of the Pleasure Quarters, a maiko would have her virginity sold to the highest bidder when she was about 13 or 14. 15 was cutting it, and pretty embarrassing for the maiko in question. When she did have her mizuage, she would change her hairstyle from Wareshinobu to Ofuku (...so that everyone could congradulate her...). But, the Prostitution Laws put an end to the sexual aspect of mizuage, and the event became metaphorical.

That's what I've read.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:11 am 
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It's a really hard question to answer. Every book seems to have a little different explanation.

Mineko Iwasaki, ex Geisha of Gion Kobu, says that Mizuage was basically a sweet sixteen party for when a Maiko's hairstyle changed. Granted she was a Maiko in the 60's, more then likely that was all it was.

Liza Dalby said that in Pontocho, prior to the ban on Prostitution, that Mizuage was practiced a little like how it was portrayed in MoaG, however there was no money aspect to it. Basically, they would talk to an older client to have him deflower a Maiko. The theory is, that, as a Geisha, a Geisha is supposed to be a second wife, and a virgin second wife seems a contradiction? That's the jist of what Dalby wrote.

Lesley Downer spoke of similar, but that the deflower'er was paid sometimes to deflower a Maiko who hadn't had it.

I think that it probably varied a little district to district and over time. So maybe all of these explanations of Mizuage are true and correct.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 6:35 am 
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Perhaps You're right Tsuruko, thanks.

I'm asking that since I've read MoaG, and than read Mineko Iwasaki's statement about it.

Some people claimed that she did not speak the truth as she was - after Golden wrote that she was the one to give him info and reference to the book - she became a 'persona non grata' in some places, she was threatened and once even attacked for revealing so many secrets to a Western writer. I've learned also that she only agreed to help him if he wouldn't reveal her name in the book (but we all know he did)

I believe there was an article which said that she had to move, and she sued him for the above reasons and later wtore a book, believed to have been an attempt to clear her name.

But perhaps those are mostly just gossip...?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:43 am 
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I don't know quite what to think about Mineko Iwasaki versus Arthur Golden.

I was never much for MoaG, some parts of it, well, disturbs me a little. The Dr. Crab ordeal specifically. It just creeps me out how much detail he placed upon that and it makes me question his credentials and his reasons for writing Memoirs. . .

I don't believe Mineko Iwasaki is a complete angel, but, I don't know, even if she did, I don't think she would've told a strange foreign man that she sold her virginity for $50,000 in equivalent to Yen, it just seems a little far fetched.

Another idea on Mizuage, is that, in the Japanese mindset, their ideals of sex and implications is completely different from Western Perceptions. I think Dalby and Downer explain it in the most neutral fashion possible.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:50 pm 
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One thing to note, Arthur Golden said that he got his research from more than just Mineko. There was one article from a long time ago that said he also interviewed a geisha from Pontocho.

This may be related in some fashion, but I think that Miyagawa-cho and Gion Higashi used to be a pleasure quarter as well as a geisha district. This is somewhat pure speculation, but even though the geisha themselves might not have been prostitutes, I would not doubt that Mizuage consisted of a little exchange of money after the girl reached a certain age.

I did not like how Memiors portrayed Geisha in the book and I certainly didn't like how they portrayed it in the movie. The movie was tacky when it came to kimono and geisha style. They did not stick to the hairstyles, the proper kimono, and it was weird that as soon as Sayuri had her debut, "WE HAVE TO SELL YOUR VIRGINITY NOW!!!" It was a good drama and an interesting story, but it just irks me that they just kind of "Americanized Geisha" just to make money. That is just my opinion.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:59 pm 
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I feel the same way on the whole MoaG book and movie thing. A lot of it was wrong, especially in the movie. But I generally let those things slide when I'm reading the book (the movie is quite unforgivable to me). The book has a lot of nostaglia for me, because that's what got me out of anime and into geiko. I reread it quite often, and just let the inaccuries fly.

I do think Golden doesn't understand women, though. He got way to into the rivalries, I think. Worrying that some girl half my age will grow up to be more beautiful than me isn't my main occupation.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:53 am 
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I talked to some of my friends about this in my guild. link to disscussion Some quotes and pictures were posted there.

And we pretty much came to the conclusion that mizuage existed, but doesn't any more.

I don't really have much to say about it except for the quote I posted in the discussion (note: I'd rate the quote as PG13, just so you know ahead of time. But it isn't bad..):

From "Geisha" by Liza Dalby
"The Deflowering Arrangement" page 109
Quote:
.... "This mizu-age patron was something like a male honeybee, you know. After his initial function was served, he had no further relation with the lady." The younger men in the group, unfamiliar with the more exotic customs of the geisha world, were fascinated. One of them ventured, "What took seven days then, shacho-san?"
"The okaasan or one of the experienced geisha prepared a chamber. The placed three eggs on top of the coverlet by the pillows and then withdrew to an adjoining room. Once in a while they would cough or rustle, just to reassure the young girl that they were nearby."
"Oh, how embarrassing," exclaimed Ichiteru, fully imbued with more modern notions of privacy.
"The man would tell the maiko to lie down; then, breaking the eggs, he swallowed the yolks and rubbed the whites between her thighs. 'This is mizu-age. Good night, my dear,' he said, and turned out the lights. The next night the room was readied in just the smae way and again her cracked the eggs, consumed the yolks, and applied the whites between the girl's legs. 'This is mizu-age. Sleep well, my dear.' Again the next night, and the next. Each time, however, he wiggled his fingers in a little deeper with the slippery egg whites. By the end of the week, the maiko had gotten used to this little ritual and she was very relaxed. And at that point, fortified as he was with all those egg yolks, you see, mizu-age was easily accomplished."....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:05 am 
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I remembered laughing when I read that part. It was such an interesting and unique ritual, so much cooler than what everyone thought. MoaG should have done that, it would have been great.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:51 pm 
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I think Americans would look at that and go "WTF!?!?!?!?!"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 1:38 pm 
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it´s a reallity...just read the book GEISHA by LIZA DALBY and you will see that it really existed till the second great war.
Arthur Golden didn´t make up anything,he only make it to look like a "social event",what actually was a agreement between the okansan and a favority client.There was no "fight for mizuage" like Golden suggested in the book.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:21 pm 
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It totally was a reality, and granted that Arthur Golden did use a lot of "Fluff" in MoaG, for many of us it was his book that launched us to look deeper into the world of the Geisha, and Kimono culture.

I felt like Mineko was hiding a lot when she wrote her book. Like as if she was trying very hard to dispel all the old ways of the geisha world to make them seem like they never happened. Not to mention her "boyfriend" was really her danna.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:26 pm 
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I personalyy didn´t undersatnd thsi Mineko stuff at all...i read many interviews with Golden and acoording to him,the lives "discribed" in his book belonged to 2 old géishas,who lived before the SWW.Mineko was a young geisha during the 60´s or 70´s (cant remmember now),the book has nothing to do with her,Golden just wrote anote thanking her for colaborating but he has never said it was her life.....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 4:31 pm 
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Sakamoto wrote:
I personally didn´t understand this Mineko stuff at all...i read many interviews with Golden and according to him,the lives "described" in his book belonged to 2 old géishas,who lived before the SWW.Mineko was a young geisha during the 60´s or 70´s (cant remember now),the book has nothing to do with her,Golden just wrote a note thanking her for collaborating but he has never said it was her life.....


Ditto. I know saving face is a Japanese custom, but Mineko went too far for such a little thing. Especially since he based Sayuri in the 1920's-30's and there really isn't that much of a similarity within the lives of the two women.

Anyway back to Mizuage...GO MIZUAGE! YAY!

I can't quote the book "Geisha" by Liza Dalby exactly but the reason why they had to do mizuage and could not be virgins was because they had to learn to "Take It". That meaning they had to learn to take the good with the bad. Geiko life isn't all sunshine, money and glamor, sometimes you have your hard times and you need to subject yourself to things that you may not like all the time. Loosing one's virginity to a man you may not want is a way to teach this lesson.


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