Friday, June 4, 2010

Minako, the Last Yoshiwara Geisha

Today in Japan a funeral service was held for a very unique geisha who passed away this Monday: Minako, 90 years old and the last Yoshiwara geisha.

Yoshiwara, the famous and walled-in pleasure quarter of Tokyo, flourished for centuries before modern prostitution laws closed it down in 1958. Men with money, whether noble or commoner, were welcomed and entertained by geisha (non-prostitute entertainers) and various levels of prostitutes in a rich, escapist fantasy world created through beautiful venues, extravagent parties, and the Yoshiwara denizens themselves.

While her autobiography is Japanese-only, Western audiences can still catch a glimpse of Minako's life in a Japanese TV clip from a few years ago, when the spry 88-year-old gave an interview to a morning TV show. A big thank you goes to Immortal Geisha member "menonaka", who provided a really quick and great English translation, and member "yukihoshi" for finding the clips!

The TV show segment, Part 1 and Part 2.

Menonaka's Translation (Scroll down a bit to start)

The Autobiography (Japanese-only, shown above): Hana Yori Hana - "(To Prefer) Simple Flowers Over Beautiful Blossoms", if I had to try translating the nuance of the kanji used.

No comments: