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Okichi, the Tragic Geisha

2013-02-18 | 🔗

Okichi's story is filled with embellishment and hazy details. Sent to serve Townsend Harris, the first U.S. Consul to Japan, she was shunned after Harris left. Yet Okichi is now honored with an annual festival and has become a national symbol.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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hey guys i'm shane bacon and i want to tell you about a new podcast called get a grip with maximum shave vacant one guy too has probably get a threat and fifty are dry considers himself an athlete mostly because of his unreal papa shouted ilities and has in fact started to show off signs of a try supporting is our own maxim of egypt for winter in fan favorite online maxie myself turn out new episode every week to give a fan of meat was golf and all the comes with someone it's been work weeks on track we all during the plague right now with the best in the world listen and follow get a grip attacks omen and shame bacon on the ipod radioactive apple podcast or every listen applaud gasp right now welcome to stuff you missed in history class from housetop works
i walk into the pot calf and how we firmly and i'm scared out and today we are talking about a topic that new and dear to my heart and probably learn dear to the heart of anybody who has ever studied geisha or even the japanese culture because it comes up a lot i first learned about this story in jody cobb's book about and dirty cop is a woman who was the only westerner to the best of my knowledge to ever be fully indoctrinated indignation culture and because in the west we often equate geisha we think of them as leg sort of high class colleagues but that's not really accurate at all there really artists can avoid an miscreant misperceptions about the ottoman hair mama re like they were really women of culture and really artists in their own right and performers and was not completely of a sexual element but that really wasn't we do with our cultures about and so that
really open the eyes i think to a lot of westerners about it and so to the story of oki tee who is really one of those four great tragic figures visa culture and when you told me what you were thinking of researching i didn't ring a bell but once i started reading about her story i thought of course they heard a fire and part of that is just because it has a strong retail element to accept in the worst possible way in ohio tragic tragic story but it it will probably familiar to a lot of listeners even if the name is unfamiliar right away you swell and even if the story itself does ring familiar to them the themes of adieu because it as you said it it's like your classic kind of tragic romance story here
there are a lot of elements that are very common and that's not really accidental will discover because a lot of this is in embellished tale that no has grown in reputation and the details have been a stout here in their along the way and enveloped her romance a abolish duty hum another thing than it probably was it has we're going to sort of do a classic steffy missed in history class take on it then ran and examine that story the story that your likely to hear the legend the and then what historical basis there really is right the sort of wealth being in thrilling but living when few yeah now the tale to see how it happened changes in interpretation of the era so
for quick background of e g was born in december eating forty one in shimerda japan her parents the factors were each ebay and his wife morocco and they were fishermen i mean they were no fishing village camera is the southernmost port city and the easy peninsula so this is time when japan was not open to the outside world in that plays into story pretty dramatically but according to the legend which is our gonna kick it i e g was incredibly beautiful and was sold interrogation house when she was twelve years old and i guess if you read this this book about the history of geisha is that a normal age to be entering the geisha ah yes i mean and when we face she was sold them the geisha hau fat in and of itself has some connotations that sound really bad
for a lot of these families having a daughter that couldn't contribute to the work of the day to day like needs of a fishing family they couldn't afford to keep children and raise them well and give them the things that they felt that they needed so it was really in many impoverish families eyes a better thing to be lake go to this life of opulence where we'll be given everything and care of what has become a woman of you no great grace and beauty so it while it sounds really creepy anyway i mean it is unsettling to think that a family be like we're gonna give you to these people common and as far as aids untrained remember because it has been a little whilst over the whole book through but i have heard accounts of kids much younger than that even where it's just from the gecko they kind of don't even have the resources to really get their kids through
early formative stage in the amount of training that again show would have to go through to you'd start very early you're learning thick and dance and things like that that take a look of a lifetime of practice and the buyer there's a biography about oki which is often referenced in a lot their literature about her called butterfly in the wind and they re nora and its interest because it's written very much in the style of a novel so in terms of historical basis i question it a little bit and right the lot a very prose fiction style which talks about the inner feelings in the inner thoughts of of the characters of the we were you know there's really probably now historical documentation that kid lend sources to that good read in it it's fundamentally you no kind of a really fleshed out in
the version of the sea legend like its told over and over so that in in mind as we go forward as you mentioned earlier wherein the accords legislative action and if you go after her to do more research on this yourself to it and you pick up the back and think wait a minute historical now definitely does not read as a textbook so it really is kind of a novelist asian of of the story and in this book were told of e g meeting even though she is in in the geisha culture at this point she it's a man to do more to in the after
of a storm that his shimerda and a lot of people had to evacuate and she meets hindering the evacuation city and it gets out of the clay stirred geisha training environment yanked story one at that point she was already working as a game i can't i'm turner member if she was still in the apprentice stage or she was working alongside another ass she had already ascended to be in her own right of fully fledged geisha but you know tomorrow's telling the story of duty is troubled because the opulence asia world in this sort of indulgence of is very unsettling to her yes it is really how rehearsing yeah how a person should live and she dreams of like a simpler life she wants to be a wife and a mother and silence it's you too much you who is very kind to her and unlike the gentlemen that she's been entertaining isn't want anything her he's not you know she's not paid to make can't make conversation with him he just wants to
with her and care for her and he doesn't care that she had been a geisha so she thinks all her dreams are about true care though we know that down equipment why exactly as you might think it has in eighteen fifty three commodore matthew perry of the u s navy first landed in japan and by eighteen fifty four he had sailed to speeches hometown motor harbour of varying number of ships depending on the account reed had just pretty startling does that's like a historically significant event is the dead hamelin historically i mean it's huge but even so indifferent historical tax that are cited by their tax different numbers of the ships he brought them change up in forty nine florence summit seven and from its nine but the most for in pay is not the number i shall read out what he was there to accomplish and to demand really mandate that japan a stout
trade and diplomatic relationships with the u s because israel in early japan was closed society and had then for its history so this was but they milestone shift in in in world really it also pretty important in a peach life yes now in some telling the story the dates get real floppy in some telling the story oki chee was seen by townsend harris too became the euro council in eighteen fifty six and so all ready there sitting dicey there because that's after these these treaties were being discussed namely that doesn't going to be the first thing we get into getting into the legend debunking yeah so there is one version of the story where townsend harris sees her when seventeen she's leaving a bath house with a friend of hers
and he thinks she's quite lovely sheep doesn't interact with him during the but then later on people come into her life and say by the way we need you because this journey thanks you're beautiful and if we can give you to him it might greece the wheels of this whole negotiation process i mean things go a lot smoother for us because they were not going well ah no other accounts i have a key not being seen at about half ralph she was chosen by government official left because you re so lovely exactly shoot she'd be good candidate i'm sure he'll like her oh in some versions to they offer up something for her taking on this road and that is a job for her beloved who was a just a ship's carpenter you know of a very simple sort of working man they offered to make him a samurai high profile high class position
counts those say that he was just move the way we live in a job in another town he i wasn't here the reward if you do that it's just getting him of the way and that's because depending again on account they might have been engaged they might have even been married rights those accounts differ some say they were already married some say they were engaged some sick just say they were in love that he's like a man who needed to be removed from the equation take it all easier and in some cases that's told though it was offered up as a negotiation tactic with a key and thirty months we will make your lives easier financially if we can give a kid she did this foreigner and in others it's much harsher and they just cunning gave hurt tell him and they just kind of push him off into something else
though however that ended up going down trees were signed in shimerda in june of eighteen fifty four the two seiners in question were commodore matthew perry for the u s and take a coup higher she for the shogunate and the agreements did have a major effect as we keep thing on world history they opened up japan to international trade so it seems from our legend at least that maybe i'll catch you ve got the job done yet but even the job that she was given is a little bit in question and also you know so as a little brief sidebar form later i believe after matthew pirie had wrapped up his business there there were russian ships that also came so right around the same time it's not especially impact
the story but it it's interesting because it does kind of point out how it the domino very rapidly that japan opened up to the u s trades and then there is a russian consulate almost immediately after that that opened as well so it was such a hugely shifting time japan i mean immediately after having been a close country within five months they were trading regularly with two other countries already major countries here's the thing saving money with geico was almost better than playing pick up basketball is always that guy who joined your game he never passes the rock he instantly bricks theories and who can we have you and then put his hands up and say no foul no foul with geico it's easy to switch and save on car insurance no need to fake an angel sprang because you're absolutely exhausted so which in save with geiger it's almost
better than sports are yarn were jobs more fun and if they are then i was assigned to return here with me about your i'm looking for anyone and everyone who makes working out a blast that's you it's a team altered outcome for transport awesome perks like team altogether and more that's team alter at that time to end nobody's nursery opening his residence twenty one plus if it'll routine altered autonomous and today we can apply to irresponsibly atypical abortion like use english missouri of ici though did live with harris who as we mention went on to become the u s counsel for a time again depending on the story three year three days the number three seems to be important pragmatism pretty vast different greedy vague difference for how long you lived with somebody
and then all sorts of versions of the legend of what she did while she live with him right there she was some sort of half then this is out matic movie version of the tale to kill him under cover geisha gas but ends up being loyal to image of savings in other versions she's sent to harris by the shogunate as spies though not somebody to to ease the thumb this treaty negotiation at all that turned to see what the u s representatives were up to here and there a great deal of debate and discrepancy in accounts of whether or not their relationship was consummated she has been described as his lover as his housekeeper as his nurse their people that we ve that she served until the american conflict closed as like the local dress for the consulates i mean it
it's all very it goes from everything from i'd like a chaste caring nurse to a prostitute basically i consulate prostitution in every version and between you know embellish at will apparently is how that one went through however version you like the best is the one you tell behind it is it's a very much easier on ending story because it just gets even more out our two as it goes on yo after harris left japan loki she was behind in this deserted the central focus of the legend that being laughed and then being a shunned woman somebody who was called trojan kitty so the mistress of a foreigner the mistress of a barbarian derogatory name for her
and he was basically ruin ruined flow from this association whatever it might have ban with this foreigner and the stress of of being shy by her the people she knew her her home town led to a drinking other here which are very serious and obviously her career to as a successful geisha with was not going to i didn't really just spark that back up now because he really i mean no one would pay for heard too be in another you know their hearty because she was no kind of consent trash at that point it unfortunately fell she had a look for other eventually in some reports and in the book we mention to tell a story of a start a hair salon business negation of course have the elaborate hairstyle ray
signify all sorts of things about about them to think molly and christian did an opinion on that some time ago i enough stepmom ever told you but that didn't go as planned turned out that the universe many women that she was hoping to draw with her knowledge were not the ones that wanted to go there because she was again still seen in a dark light and sober clientele tended to be women avail repute high class women in the town didn't wanna be seen grounded in wanting to associate with her which is really really but in the meantime we have to wonder what happened to her love and so he's never mention him again they could just kind of jumped to how okochee story ends butts others and this happens in the book they we're united for a time but it's a
conflicted relationship initially when she meets him again she almost doesn't want to be with him like she can't quite rap her mind around it but then do strike of this relationship but she's conflicted system we about dragging through matthew and his business he was very popular carpenter down with her grace in its very dramatic in its told in various very there are various levels of drama but there is lots of drunkenness there're fights where they talk about her having hung onto the fact that he left in the first place when the whole deal with the car was going on and you know it was really on a trajectory that they could never get to a positive place again they both start to develop pretty heavy alcoholism issues eventually to do what is best friend convinces her that if she really loves him she has to leave him because he is he's not getting
anymore because people don't want to be associated with her even peripheral win through him by his time is short year anyway he died a year leader of a heart attack and we'll lived in kyoto and machinima for a time the daily working as some sort of geisha in the darkest versions of the story as a prostitute and finally did returned to shimerda where she opened over surprise she called it an show curl but it didn't do well lost money due to poor management of key was not enough state to run a business know how to create a lot of the time employees apparently stole from her ear there's one story of an employee that is fairly conscience he's trying to tell her like people are stealing dont you can
and she's just kind of two during the care and so it turns that employ you were there like if she doesn't care i'm just gonna start zealand from the tail was well see can see where that's not really a good way to run a business eventually though there was a kind of change in sentiment about her own maybe we ve been too harsh maybe she has been misjudged she was in debt by that point bearing of how her life turned out and it didn't do much to help her at that so she die by suicide in eighteen ninety two at the age of fifty one by drowning herself near shimerda in the book to its on march twenty fifth which is right there is actually a frame the day we can talk about a little bit more and it's on a different day the day in the book march twenty seventh manifesto festival actually happens in real life today and is tat
is the day she died in the book that's actually the day that local priest took pity on her because no one claimed her body initially and after two days he just couldn't take it and he claimed her in and found a place for her in his temple to be buried the legend which is horrifying fair legend says he's at fifty wine this tragic lay living with american conflict for our council fur didn't take it him he claimed her in and found a place for her in his temple to be buried and that's the legend which is horribly had thoroughly turning to historians a lot of the details of that story are not true at all i'm sure that's apparent just from the discrepancies dramatic she open these businesses but we know one of the business is really the restaurant because restaurant is still bear and in the very blame version that comes up among historians is it ok
and another young women were housekeepers for here is for a very short time and her down spiralling life was not real unrelated yeah i mean there could have been a shadow cast on her reputation by things but that it was not nearly as dramatic as is often told her story yeah the major i can see that we told you to remember fire if it has to do with the timeline and the treaties because according to the legend she is clearly offered up as some sort of treaty bona yeah work out the treaty with the help of this young lady may was a talent asia doesn't matter she's always only linked to townsend harris and he actually did not get to japan until eighteen fifty six so here and even later when that treaty was happening he did work on other treaties up along the way as you know shifting politics and trade needs were addressed
which is actually called the harris treaty of eighteen fifty eight much later after this whole story was unfolding in it because the treaty of amity in commerce but he can have been offered a key to make those initial talks go well she wasn't in japan he wasn't there yet he was doing other thing more discrepancies on the nature of the relationship in a timeline where's he was the first foreign lived on japanese soil here but yeah where's we heard there's a one source it says she was only there for three days and not even until may of eighteen fifty seven so again nowhere near when he was treaties were happening when he first got there and then i'm kind of grasses may i read you should really be ok though we told you that one possibility was that a pc served as a nurse to harris that was the extent of their release
there is a large monument in front of the main building of the temple commemorating the beginning of council being consumed in japan here is supposedly was a big milk than he drank lotto milk because he had authors and helped with them in a kind of in a roundabout way and supports the nurse story supports maybe even the guy you needed and nerves and in the sort of novel ized history of her life they do there are instances where she is asked to go get more milk these can't keep up with his need for milk and she doesn't really wanna go out because the the villagers like her and they ve already started to show her and that she has to get milk for him in its very dramatic stuff but yeah the oliver's embellishments her really developed likely through gossiping rumour i mean we know it you don't have to be in eighteen fifty japan of gas of there
lots of stories that happen in modern era grow so outlandish bizarre that they can possibly be true but people believe them certainly okey story even though it you know is in large part function not true were pretty sure it's very popular in its actually become a big thing intermodal its memorialize throughout yeah merchant so each souvenirs to tourists there a tourist attractions built around her story could you which is the the temple where she was taken after she had asked and buried to succeed sixth century temple as we said no one had claims of body and a priest the new her family took pity on her arranged for her to be very there and there is also a museum there of her possessions like combs and some of her musical instruments and when she was a geisha but the way
this to me is that her legend and i was unable to find out what version the legend but her legend is related on a loudspeaker in both english the need for tourists has very clearly the legend loses all of its loudspeaker up here if if you're saying well ok she said to me that i might have had authors uses delivering milk it it's a strange thing to conceal yes if anybody has visited the site we would love to hear more about what fifthly i over the loudspeaker what version of the legend but the most touching part of the story because i think that we can we can assume that this part is true her beloved is varied with her there yes again i have seen pictures i haven't been by half pictures of their two sides and they are side by side
is really no verification in any forces that i found that yes he is actually there or if it was just a monument erected the idea is lovely regardless and then her restaurant is also a tourist destination now onto good is still a restaurant on the first floor but part of the second floor illegal room is dedicated as an apache museum there i'll a lot of other key items on display at gilchrist energy which is a buddhist temple that came the american consulate in eighteen fifty six and harris lived in the temple for to making it a pretty i was heartily store where the american conflict in japan began within the temple yeah so the temple display pipes and dishes and other belongings of of harris's as well as life size figurine of yours in turkey and this was another one where if you ve been there
like to have more information about while there is a time article about a worthy described them is kind of gas like it's a really creepy they again that's through one person's eyes other people may find them very touching and romantic here seeing them it in person all messed up the nicest of this story i think although again the date is a little strange if if this is the day they choose to commemorate when kiki is honoured every year with a festival on march twenty seventh which is either the anniversary of her death or the anniversary that the priest claimed her body and took her back to the temple yeah so do you remember this woman and kind of become a symbol of how you know people can be victimized the changing wines of culture lehne assembler of that at that time yes sir there
through some film at emulation isabel there's one cup tis you know kiki which it was very i believe that is made in the nineteen thirty ease and there's only four minutes of surviving footage which is like a brief dance section so it doesn't tell me the story it's literally almost watching a documentary ever geisha performing but there is another movie in nineteen fifty eight called them green and the geisha in its actually starring john wayne and japanese actress named i got under an it film on location in japan which is a big deal in the movie came out and its triggered by john houston who already had established a pretty spectacular career at that point i've got a thing maybe it's not what you think it's very very interesting because like if you look at the rotten tomatoes score it's only like i think it's fifty three percent but then you look at it in itunes to restore like there's a lot of
we get reviews if it were some people are like i think this is the great unsung role of john wanes career but other critics will be aware this was the biggest misstep of both john wayne and john houston like it was just it did not over wow even though beautiful because it was set aside mounting japan yeah and they really did jason at that fifties to adjourn you didn't really bring the whole crew out to another country at that point i want it all the more of it and then i couldn't help thinking just for john wayne in his little his robes it's like it's worth it i couldn't help it think though that it the time for another adaptation of their yeah it's such a compelling story it does so suitable perfection i mean maybe that's why historical accounts of it seemed to be kinda pretty strongly with with fictional l
yeah it it's one of those stories where the historical basis is great and it's a good kick off point that maybe more could happen that is the perfect giving a fear i will come let the idea basis by sheep isn't in the movie she is said is an assassin and kind of moves into a spiral before she becomes they become very and of each other and fallen love and it's very dramatic and you know really kills him leave her behind i guess i'm basically thing is finally that also tragic round me here i mean yeah and because there is so little actual documentation it so easy for this to be even further embellished have added
go go go crazy so while sad i think it is lovely that she has now been redeems in history again we don't know the the value actuality of what happened but as a symbol she's really become very important to kind of recognised the just the ways in which people's lives are genuinely affected by current events and you know when people become pawns its drawing lives so good to have that were remembrance and have her honoured in the way that she is now at the festival so sad story but what sort of a happy coded to it yes i pay sonya italy's good too a festival day you have ever tragic at least you gonna furthermore last of all in the long run and maybe another movie
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ok moving onto listener mail today i thought i would please we'll now willing postcard it is from renate in nominal and she to say ladys i took my grand tour of europe before your pipe has started so now that i finally gone from are interesting again i didn't want to miss this opportunity to thank you mail i monetary on tripped china for college in events learning a ton about the dragon lady if you visit the forbidden you can see her summer palace which is amazing a definite recommend a warmer month because not only is there in january and apparently founded rather chile call for that's really club the dragon lady with such a fund to talk about and i love it as i always when people are inspired to take a trip on the package and forbidden
these are my book it was told and now they have a starbucks sancho get together now though i think it was something he back office i have to mention two things you guys know i like the stamp international stand on the poster this one has the court's stay out its bracket i mean no one alligators kind of settling the kind of cutaway affairs like a alligator whose resting his chin in a sleepy way on the other allegories back his smiling at the reader it's quite dear so thank you thank you for choosing such a good stamp it and a beautiful postcard anna lovely tired and he had come so if you would like to learn more about the topic we talk about today you can go to a website
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-04.