Bebe Taian: Christmas Shopping Spree

December 29, 2011

Christmas Shopping Spree

Christmas was incredibly busy this year. I barely slept for a week! Now that all the festivities are over, and I'm cleaning up the place and recovering, I can get back to business as usual. But first, I went on a small shopping spree!

Okay, for me, it isn't small. It was almost funded by my mother and uncle. Seriously, I think I've finally found a gift card that I LIKE. Amazon cards are the way to go, guys. :P I can blow $200 on books without even blinking. And I will devour them all.

I don't like Kindles or Nooks because they are electronic- nice and all, and some stuff is cheaper on them, but 1) I don't buy the eco-friendly thing as compared to harvesting trees when I know where the metals come from and what they cost (think child slavery, rape, and strip-mining in Africa, Afghanistan, and other countries) and 2) they're ELECTRONIC. Which means if the power goes out, or the batteries run down (more metals and chemicals being produced), it won't work. A book, I can just take outside. It will be readable anywhere there is light. I can take it anywhere. TSA will never stop me for a stack of paper (I hope), but they apparently don't know how to handle laptops and Kindles. Books are far superior!

Aside from the stuff I've been meaning to get on and off (for, I don't know, ten years or so), I racked up on Japanese culture books. It's a good thing my husband reminded me, because strangely, I'd forgone those (again) in search of a bunch of YA books that I loved long ago. My youngest sister tends to read my books, even the beginners' stuff on physics, economy, and chemistry, so I tend to think of her when I buy things that are on my back-burner list. So I've put more of those on a list of "One day..." books, and picked up a list of Japanese-themed books! All descriptions are the short summaries from Amazon, since I haven't received any of them yet. Which means... book reviews impending! <3 Here's the list, but oh, there are SO MANY more that I want...

- The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan

 The World of the Shining Prince, Ivan Morris's widely acclaimed portrait of the ceremonious, inbred, melancholy world of ancient Japan, has been a standard in cultural studies for nearly thirty years. Using as a frame of reference The Tale of Genji and other major literary works from Japan's Heian period, Morris recreates an era when woman set the cultural tone. Focusing on the world of the emperor's court-the world so admired by Virginia Woolf and others-he describes the politics, society, religious life, and superstitions of the times, providing detailed portrayals of the daily life of courtiers, the cult of beauty they espoused, and the intricate relations between the men and women of this milieu.

- Japanese Etiquette Today: A Guide to Business and Social Customs

Most foreigners know that Japanese etiquette differs from that of other countries, but few know in what way. In JAPANESE ETIQUETTE TODAY, the authors look at a variety of formal and informal occasions governed by subtle rules and tell you what to do, what NOT to do, what to say, what to wear, and much more.

-  Women of the Pleasure Quarters: The Secret History of the Geisha

Ever since Westerners arrived in Japan, they have been intrigued by Japanese womanhood and, above all, by geisha. This fascination has spawned a wealth of extraordinary fictional creations, from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. But as denizens of a world defined by silence and mystery, real geisha are notoriously difficult to meet and even to find. As a result, their history has long been cloaked in secrecy.

Lesley Downer, an award-winning writer, Japanese scholar, and consummate storyteller, gained more access to this world than almost any other Westerner, and spent several months living in it. In Women of the Pleasure Quarters, she weaves together intimate portraits of modern geisha with the romantic legends and colorful historical tales that shape their fascinating past. Contrary to popular opinion, geisha are not prostitutes but, literally, "arts people." Accomplished singers, dancers, and musicians, they are, above all, masters of the art of conversation, soothing the worries and stroking the egos of wealthy businessmen who can afford their attentions. Looking into such traditions as mizuage, the ritual deflowering that was once a rite of passage for all geisha, and providing colorful descriptions of their dress, training, and homes, Downer transforms their reality into a captivating narrative, and reveals an enthralling world unlike any other.

- The Nightless City: Geisha and Courtesan Life in Old Tokyo

Written over a century ago, this pioneer study was the first to venture behind the teahouse doors of the Yoshiwara quarter, Tokyo's red-light district. It remains unsurpassed as the definitive survey of geisha and courtesan life, with meticulous descriptions of traditional training, dress, social hierarchy, and erotic practices. 49 black-and-white illustrations; 2 maps.

- The Kimono of the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru

Ichimaru (1906-1997) combined her experience as a geisha with an extraordinary talent as a vocalist and musician to become a unique figure in the social history of twentieth-century Japan. Determined to distinguish herself, she studied music with the best teachers to be found in Tokyo's "floating world," or pleasure district. Ichimaru secured a recording contract in 1931 and never looked back as she won international renown.

In keeping with the geisha tradition of elegant dress, Ichimaru accumulated a striking collection of kimono over the course of her long career. After her death, the collection was given to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. In this colorful, well-informed, and satisfying little book, three members of the gallery's curatorial staff tell lchimaru's life story and place it in the context of the floating world and the larger world of Japanese culture. They also provide detailed information on kimono construction, materials, dyeing and stitching techniques, styles and the cultural connotations evoked by those styles, and the secret language of kimono imagery. Color photographs accompany their descriptions, and Ichimaru's life is illustrated with color and black-and-white images.

- Yoshiwara: Geishas, Courtesans, and the Pleasure Quarters of Old Tokyo

For centuries, Yoshiwara was the famed pleasure center of Tokyo. An erotic world unmatched by the West was created by beautiful courtesans, geishas, dancers, actors and artists. To this "floating world" came the hedonists and the sensual pleasure hunters of old Japan. A hotbed of art and creativity, it also saw the enslavement of countless women, sold or driven into the sex trade.

Yoshiwara traces the rise and fall of this city within a city, a sanctioned preserve of teahouses and brothels that was not abolished until 1958, sketching a vivid portrait of social and sexual mores in Japan's capital.

- The Book of Kimono: Complete Guide to Style and Wear

 This practical and attractive book makes available for the first time the basic knowledge and vocabulary needed to select and put on a kimono and obi.

Whether for women or men, all kimono are cut and sewn essentially from a single pattern, but a number of variations must be considered, depending on the occasion. Guidelines are given to making these choices, and the way to dress in a kimono, from the preliminaries to tieing the bustle sash, is described in detail and fully illustrated. For women, there are formal kimono, obi and accessories, and the lightweight summer yukata; for men, the yukata and the ceremonial ensemble of kimono, haori coat and hakama skirt. Children's kimono for festive events are also described.

Kimono fashions have evolved over the centuries in response to varied influences. Today modern innovations are making the wearing of kimono at home and elsewhere an attractive alternative to Western garments. These are included here, along with a discussion of aesthetics, the history of the kimono, and the meaning that kimono culture can have for wearers and admirers throughout the world.

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