Memoirs of a Geisha - Cultural Analysis

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Assignment: Intra/cross/intercultural material analysis “Memoirs of a Geisha” The modern American typically approaches Japanese culture with a kind of wary fascination. Although the US seemingly never fails to find some sense of mystique with all things ‘Oriental’, the average Joe’s obsession with Japan’s exploits belays a deep rooted xenophobia that brings to mind the scratchy footages of alien sightings, or indeed, of faded posters brandishing World War II propagandas. The unfortunate circumstances under which those two cultures first came into close contact had certainly left their marks, namely a myriad of misconceptions and general negative impressions. Decades after the Pearl Harbour Bombing, it was an American movie celebrating one of the most elusive aspects of Japanese culture that gave audience a glimpse into the emergence of those misbelieves. Bringing to the big screen the world of Japan’s much celebrated Geisha, “Memoirs of a Geisha” has also revealed how the unwitting acts of outsiders almost brought to ruins one of the most distinct aspects of an entire culture. The movie follows the footstep of Chiyo – a country girl sold into a Geisha house (Okiya) at a young age – and depicts her journey from a mere servant to one of the most renowned women in all of Tokyo. The story continued as she fled into exile at the beginning of the war, and returned to find her world devastated in the wake of the American occupation. It is at this point of the narration that the clash between cultures becomes most apparent. First and foremost, one could argue the problems stemmed from the US’s partially willful ignorance. It should be noted that, through out Japanese history, the class of exquisite artists and entertainers known as Geisha had existed along side and in very close quarters with Oiran – high class courtesans, and various

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