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15 geisha 1

The night is black

And I am excited about you.

My love climbs in me, and you ask

That I should climb to the higher room.

Things are hidden in a black night.

Even the dream is black

On the black-lacquered pillow,

Even our talk is hidden.

- Geisha song

This is a culture in which hedonism, sensualism, and the art of the erotic, not at all the same as sex, were uninhibitedly developed in very sophisticated ways. In the floating world of the geisha, it was love, not sex or sensual pleasure, which was taboo. ~ Lesley Downer, ‘The The Secret History of the Geisha: Women of the Pleasure Quarters’

The whole thing was a game. Like any game, you had to play it to the best of your ability and you had to stick to the rules; but in the long run it was not to be taken too seriously. And whatever went on in the licentious night-time dreamworld of the Yoshiwara was always forgotten the next day. It never infected the world outside those enchanted walls. That tradition carried over into the world of the geisha. Mystery was of the essence.

It was all show biz. But in the floating world, nothing could continue unchanged for long…

To play at love was one thing, really to fall in love quite another – and in the supercharged world of the geisha it was always a danger…

Often the only solution was death.

Lesley Downer, ‘The The Secret History of the Geisha: Women of the Pleasure Quarters’

How cruel the floating world

Its solaces how few -

And soon my unmourned life

Will vanish with the dew.

~ Saikaku Ihara

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