American Geisha and Oriental/Ist Fantasies

A common way that many Western authors and artists depict the Eastern world is shown as unique, unknown, exciting, and “other” from what the West is used to. Not only does this show an incomplete and biased view of what the Eastern world looks like through the eyes of a westerner, but it emphasizes Asian tropes that are untrue, and these tropes become so engrained in what westerners imagine when they think of Asia. In Anne Allison’s chapter titled “American Geishas and Oriental/ist Fantasies” in the book Media, erotics, and transnational Asia, she discusses the dynamics of Orientalism with a specific focus on “Oriental Japan” (Allison, 2012) and the story from Memoirs of a Geisha.

Allison begins her article by giving the reader some details regarding the novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden, such as when it was released as well as some blurbs from reviews on that novel. She then goes into a discussion about Edward Said’s term: Orientalism, which is when one views different cultures (usually cultures from the Eastern world) through a mentality where it is us versus them, with “them” being the Eastern world.

Get quality help now
Prof. Finch
Prof. Finch
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Free Essays

star star star star 4.7 (346)

“ This writer never make an mistake for me always deliver long before due date. Am telling you man this writer is absolutely the best. ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

After this, she begins her discussion on the surprising success of Memoirs and the repercussions of the novel on how Asian, specifically Japanese, culture is now seen by the West. Allison dies this by dividing her article into four separate categories, all regarding different aspects of Memoirs of a Geisha, which are realness, story, oriental erotics, and intimacy.

In Allison’s section titled “Realness”, she discusses the realness that Memoirs had when audiences first read the book and how that plays a role in adding Oriental thoughts and images to Japan.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

The book was written by Arthur Golden, many readers missed this and believed the story was by a real Japanese geisha. Although this made it seem a little less real, many of the readers still appreciated the “authentic aura” and “believability” of the story. Allison believes that the authenticity the story seems to portray drew many American readers in, and after reading the novel the readers believed that the story “reflected a world that is historically real” (Allison, 2012). However, this world that felt historically real would be proven to be false as Allison says that the real-life native, that was a loose inspiration for the main character, claimed to be exploited and misrepresented by Golden. And not only that but she also claims that how Golden portrayed “the geisha world differs strikingly form what she told him” (Allison, 2012). The issue Allison takes with the “realness” of the story is not a straight attack on Golden, but she is more focused on how the realness is constructed to make it feel real for audiences from the West, even if it doesn’t show the real world of geishas. The “realness” that the audience feels regarding Japan and Geisha culture only adds to and emphasizes the exotic and mystical view that many already have on Japan, and further supports Said’s idea on Orientalism.

Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Cite this page

American Geisha and Oriental/Ist Fantasies. (2022, Jan 28). Retrieved from

American Geisha and Oriental/Ist Fantasies essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment