RLST 485 Feminist Study of Religion

  • On June 20, 1905 Nakagawa Manjiro, the proprietor of a popular geisha house in Osaka, went on a bloody rampage after discovering that his wife was having an affair. In less than fifteen minutes he murdered five people within his establishment. Only a seventeen year-old apprentice geisha named Tsumakichi survived the attack, although she was severely wounded by her foster father's samurai sword. Over the next six decades, Tsumakichi - or Oishi Junkyo as she would eventually be called - would perform in vaudeville, establish herself as a well-known painter, and eventually renounce secular life to become a Buddhist nun. This course uses the life of this fascinating woman as a means to better understand early twentieth-century Japanese society and culture, especially the interrelationship between the "flower and willow world," the performing and visual arts, and Shingon Buddhism.