Library JournalSeigle presents a comprehensive history of Japan's most famous red-light district. Following the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate at Edo in 1604, an influx of womanless Samurai led to the creation of a separate, walled brothel quarter, the Yoshiwara. Seigle (Japanese literature, Univ. of Pennsylvania) points out that many of the early brothel-keepers were ex-Samurai, men dispossessed when their feudal lords were overthrown; and many of the most popular courtesans were the wives and daughters of ruined feudal lords and their Samurai. Historical anecdotes enliven the tale of how Yoshiwara styles of dress, music, and etiquette came to influence the larger society. A readable account of an important institution, which will be enjoyed by informed readers.-- Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
BooknewsDrawing on both historical and literary sources, examines life in the pleasure houses of Japan during the Edo period from the early 1600s to 1868. Among the topics are the origins, illegal competitors, the cost of a visit, the treatment of the courtesans, traditions and protocols, Yoshiwara arts, the rise of the female geisha, and the decline of the houses. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Yoshiwara based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Whilst this book does contain a lot of information, it's not all that well organized. There are references in early chapters to terms, practices or events which aren't explained until much later in the book, which can be confusing unless you already have extensive knowledge of the subject. Some areas are just touched upon with no great detail given, and it's easy to get lost when the author moves from one time period to another without explaining changes that were taking place fully. Information about the ranking of courtesans is confusing, and there are a number of inconsistencies in the text. The index doesn't help because it's so limited. Despite talking about the harsh realities of Yoshiwara life, the author talks a fair amount about the women being better off than ordinary Japanese women, happy in ignorance, etc., and the rose-tinted glasses are definitely on some of the time, which was disappointing considering the nature of Yoshiwara life and its dependence on a system of slavery. You need to read this one more than once because of the arrangement of information.