Geishas are Not Sex Workers: A Reflection on Travel in Japan

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I saw the movie Memoirs of a Geisha a few plane rides ago. Wanting to learn something about the city and the culture I would soon be spending a month living in, Kyoto, Japan, I did what any reasonable person would do. I ignored books and articles and went straight to the movies.

If you haven’t seen it (and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t recommend it), the film tells the story of a young girl being sold by her family to a geisha house where she learns from a young age how to entertain rich men in exchange for financial security. The main drive of the movie is her desire to be “sponsored” by a man who was kind to her as a child (ew) following her debut performance.  This debut is a means to showcase her talent and attract the highest bidder to her virginity. Like I said, ew.

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