Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Mieography

This story has interested me for a long time.

This is Liza Dalby. She is an American Anthropologist, and novelist. She specializes in Japanese culture. She wrote a dissertation on "The Institution of the Geisha in Modern Japanese Society.
She is also the ONLY non japanese woman to ever be a geisha.
She first went to Japan when she was a teenager, living for a year with a family on the island of Kyushu. She was the first, and only foreign student at Saga University. She knew only the barest bones of Japanese when she got there, and found the first few months fairly difficult. While she was there, she heard the sound of a Japanese instrument, the Shamisen, for the first time. She loved it, and her host family arranged for her to receive lessons.
When she returned from Japan, she enrolled at Swathmore college, in the field of Cultural Anthropology. She went back to Japan for her junior year, this time to Tokyo. After finishing at Swathmore, she continued on to graduate school at Stanford University. This is when she decided to do her dissertation on the Geisha.
Working hard, she earned the trust of the Geisha, and they wished her to represent them properly to the western countries. They wanted her to have a firm understanding of their world, so they encouraged her to borrow appropriate kimono, and take her shamisen to the teahouses with them. She even had a "big sister", Ichiume. She was known as Ichigiku. She spent much time as a novice geisha, doing her research, but was never "formally" given the title.
She received a Ph.D from Stanford, in 1978, and took a teaching position at the University of Chicago. She married a fellow professor, Michael Dalby. During this time, she wrote a book called "Geisha". She followed that one up with a book called Kimono- Fashoning Culture. And in 2000, she put out her third book, The Tale of Murasaki.
She was also a consultant to Rob Marshall for the film, "Memoirs of a Geisha".


CamiKaos said...

I've read about her before, she's a facinating woman.

sybil law said...

Well I've never heard of her, but I loved the book Memoirs of a Geisha (never saw the film)!
That is fascinating. I think a lot of people are fascinated with geishas- including me- for some reason!

Daryl said...

Oh you reminded me Sybil, Husband duped Memoirs of a Geisha when he got the viewing DVD from his friend who get to vote for the Academy Awards ... we still havent watched it but friends who did said it was wonderful .. the book was a fabulous read

And learning about Liza Dalby is making me want to read her book.

I love Fridays Mieography almost as much as Short Story Saturday ...


holly said...

i'm really hating that i haven't *yet* read the memoirs book. i do like japanese culture, i just only have so many hours in a day in a week in a etc etc etc.