A Woman of Pleasure: A Novel by Kiyoko Murata

A Woman of Pleasure: A Novel by Kiyoko Murata

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An unforgettable novel of fearless women banding together to pursue the lives they want, inspired by the real-life historic Japanese courtesan strike

In 1903, a fifteen-year-old girl named Aoi Ichi is sold to the most exclusive brothel in Kumamoto, Japan. Despite her modest beginnings in a southern fishing village, she becomes the protégée of an oiran, the highest-ranking courtesan at the brothel. Through the teachings of her oiran, Shinonome, Ichi begins to understand the intertwined power of sex and money. And in her mandatory school lessons, her writing instructor, Tetsuko, encourages Ichi and the others to think clearly and express themselves. By banding together, the women organize a strike and walk away from the brothel and into the possibility of new lives.

Based on real-life events in Meiji-era Japan, award-winning and critically acclaimed veteran writer Kiyoko Murata re-creates in stunning detail the brutal yet vibrant lives of women in the red-light district at the turn of the twentieth century—the bond they share, the survival skills they pass down, and the power of owning one's language.


"A Woman of Pleasure is perhaps the best novel about Japan’s pleasure quarters available in the English language. Filled with a cast of fully-realized women, it is a striking work of historical fiction. Many of the questions it raises are still as pertinent today as they were 120 years ago." —Alison Fincher, Asian Review of Books

"This immersive chronicle will move readers." —
Publishers Weekly

"Using the frame of incidents from Meiji-era Japan, Murata takes us into brothel life . . . The novel especially enchants with its nods to writing." —JR Ramakrishnan

Publisher: Counterpoint
ISBN:  978-1640095793
Pages: 320