A TAYUU is an OIRAN is NOT NECESSARILY a TAYUU is a PROSTITUTE
A TRUE CONVERSATION OLD SOBA HAD WITH A JAPANESE BUSINESSMAN WHO WAS LOOKING AT MY PHOTO COLLECTION :
ME : Look at this old photo of a prostitute.
HIM : That's not a prostitute, it's an Oiran.
ME : Well, an Oiran was a prostitute.
HIM : No, they are completely different.
ME: Huh ? What's the difference ?
HIM : Oiran charged way more for sex than a regular prostitute.
ME : Well, OK then. An Oiran is a high-priced prostitute.
HIM : YES, THAT'S TRUE .......but, she's still not a prostitute, she's an Oiran.
ME [Under my breath] : Holy Mother of God.....
CONCLUSION : Both then and now, more than a few Japanese males have a hard time coming to grips with reality, or using what Westerners call logic. It's also why the Japanese still use the words COMFORT WOMEN instead of SEX SLAVES to describe the unfortunate girls who were sexually trafficked, enslaved, and raped on a daily basis by the Japanese Military as forced prostitutes during WW2.
It's a shame when an entire nation and culture become enslaved to the use of EUPHEMISIM to the point where they cannot connect the euphemism to what is being euphemised.
The TAYUU and OIRAN were all Prostitutes. From the ages of five, six, or seven, they were in training to eventually become prostitutes. For most, it is said that they “got down to business” at the onset of puberty --- a nebulous age that could be reduced in proportion to the amount of money offered to her pimp for the “pleasure” of being the first to use her. After paying their dues, and arriving at the top of their profession, these girls could eventually say NO to any "John"....er, "Mr. Taro"....that they didn't care to sleep with.
The customers that they did said YES to paid a steep price for their "cultured company" and sexual services. They were, in effect, the highest priced "Call Girls" of old Japan.
As Judo Dad tells us in the comments box, this IS a very pretty shot of one of these most highly desired women in old Japan.
Whether she was ever loved by her father, or any other man for that matter, will never be known. However, as an object of entertainment and wealthy men's carnal desires, she lived in rarefied air at the pinnacle of her profession.
It should be stated here that this was not an adult decision on her part to leave her job at the Tokyo Wal*Mart in order to make more money by (1) sticking a bunch of shoe-horns in her hair, and (2) going down on a few of the local bankers and politicians. Rather (as mentioned above) she was sold into this profession at a young age, and assisted the elder prostitutes until she herself started taking customers at age 12 or 13, and spent her days knowing nothing else.
Again, these "Pretty Prostitutes" were here for other than personal need or desire to engage in prostitution. They were sold and "trafficked" into it by their own parents, within the borders of their own country.
This, of course runs against the modern-day Western use of the word "Prostitute", which is usually used to describe a relatively more ADULT women who enters this trade by choice --- for reasons ranging anywhere from nymphomania to financial distress to funding a drug habit --- or those forced into it as a "slave" situation via human trafficking, or bondage by deceit. And in any case, all activities surrounding it being perceived in the mono-theistic West as "sin" or "vice".
The OIRAN / TAYUU of Japan was neither of those, and is a product of a unique culture that both contained and glorified such women from tender ages at the request of their parents, involving negotiated contractual parameters understood by Japanese society at large, with the acquiescence of her close family and community.
As flickr member Tokis-Phoenix points out in her well-written and thoughtful comment #7 below, it is as much or more the fault of the rulers who allowed and maintained this system, while at the same time making the brothel system --- fed by little girls far too young to reason through or understanding what they were being sold into --- one of the most famous "default options" given to Japanese parents in their impoverished serfdom as a way to make some quick money.
The following is my own PERSONAL take on the matter, while acknowledging that there are OTHER takes, of different degrees, and varying nuance of opinion; especially when it comes down to each one of us having to answer the question, "......Would there ever be a time, place, or situation in this world, where I would ever sell one of my OWN little daughters to a whorehouse --- even if it was legal, and 10 of my neighbors had already done it with their own daughters ?...."
My own answer is..... NO, I would not. But, that's just me
Okinawa_Soba does not personally accept the "Time-Place" cultural feature of Japan, or any other country that sells its children into prostitution --- even if Japan and their poly-theistic / Confucian neighbors throughout Asia did think it was normal and OK. For me, "Time-Place" provides no reason, and no circumstance as an excuse for it.
If "Time-Place" makes anything OK, then every culture, tradition, and custom we have in the world RIGHT NOW must also be OK, too. And if you believe that everything is OK when it comes to things of a sexual nature, then by all means please stand up and cheer for the millions of little girls who have their vaginal plumbing sliced away every year at the hands of modern day "Time-Place" family butchers with dirty knives, perpetual ignorance, and male-dominated attitudes for the control and subjection of women.
Just like America being built on the multiple backs of Slavery, Child Labor, and the wholesale slaughter of the Native American and the Buffalo (and etc), "time-place" and "moral relativity" arguments cannot and never will excuse our fore-fathers conduct. Nor does it excuse those cultures and traditions where Fathers and families sell little girls into a life of prostitution.... including me, if I were also to have done it.
THIS DISCUSSION CONTINUES ON WITH READER FEEDBACK AT COMMENT # 7.
That being said, I will now get off my soap box, switch gears, and get down into the grit and dirt where the proverbial rubber meets the proverbial road concerning the pretty girl in the picture.
Please excuse some occasional repetition as we nail things down here :
First, it's time to get over this "She was a Courtesan" nonsense, and other "elevating euphemisms" I see all over the Web right now . The girls you see in these photos were NOT "courtesans" in any way. She was"HIGH CLASS" SEX FOR HIRE and that's it.
If any of the xenophobic spoiled brat leaders of Japan's "Royal Court" wanted a little "nooky" on the side, they had plenty of first-cousins and "local girls" to fill that need (no doubt, the family being remunerated) --- all WITHOUT the aid of the Porcupine-headed OIRAN and TAYUU.
The Western word "Courtesan" is a very poor English translation of the above prostitute's "Job Description", and should be tossed into the trash can along with other spurious attempts at describing certain aspects of Japanese culture by using ill-fitting English words and social concepts.
OIRAN was the generic Japanese name for these prostitutes everywhere in Japan.
TAYUU was the special, regional name for them ONLY IN KYOTO.
SO... a TAYUU WAS ALSO AN OIRAN... but an OIRAN was not always, or necessarily, a TAYUU....unless she was an Oiran in KYOTO....where they would call her a TAYUU.
Six of one, half-dozen of another, and a Rose by any other name is still a Rose.
Or a Prostitute.
From now on, please use one one of THREE WORDS : The Japanese OIRAN or TAYUU (which, unfortunately, have lost their true meaning, even for the Japanese of today), and in your own language, the word PROSTITUTE. Any other euphemistic padding of her Kimono is simply dishonest.
Her lone advantage was being able to say NO to anybody she didn't feel comfortable about sleeping with. The other middle-of-the-road prostitutes generally did NOT have this option, and had to sleep with any any paying slob that wanted them.
Strangely, I have been told anecdotally that certain orders of the lowest "caged prostitutes" were given [perhaps out of pity] the same right of refusal via a certain ritual that involved a tobacco pipe. However, I would imagine that only in the most extreme cases was such a refusal ever resorted to.....
The only reason an OIRAN had the "luxury" of being able to turn down a few "Johns" here and there (as opposed to her sister prostitutes left behind while she was rising up the ladder of male lust) is simply because she had been through the ringer, earned her kudos, and beat out the less attractive prostitutes with her ability to "Polish a Guys' Knob". For those new to Flickr, that means "Rolling a Guy's Cigar".
I was going to use the more common euphemism "Blow Job" in the above paragraph. However, due to being so extensively used, it has become more inappropriate to say "Blow Job" than to use the REAL term : "FELLATIO" (from THE Latin felare, fellare --- to suck). For those new to flickr, and not up to speed on your Latin, FELLATIO means ORAL SEX.
Isn't it amazing how we can use one euphemism to to get around using another euphemism until the euphemism itself raises eyebrows? Speaking of which, please remind me to tell you sometime about the many Japanese girls who (under the influence of warm sake) asked me if I wanted to see how well they could "Play the Bamboo Flute" (!)
In any case, SEX was the thing, and these OIRAN / TAYUU were damn good at it !
She was SO GOOD AT IT, she even trained LITTLE GIRLS to grow up to hopefully take her place :
Oh.....she also had a few more "Awards" for being able to sing LESS out of tune than the other girls, dance without tripping over her herself (most of the time), and being able to hit a little TAIKO drum better than a monkey.
As for that multi-purpose lightning-rod of a hat rack over her pretty face, I have fully described it's construction and dangers at my other flickr pic HERE :
Nowadays, the Japanese --- ever in love with the fashionable decor of their prostitutes and symbols of sex for cash --- even make HELLO KITTY Tayuu and Oiran dolls as "wholesome gifts" for their little girls (move over, Barbie !). Modern-day reenactments of their old "Parade of the Prostitutes" can still be seen in Kyoto --- including the decorative presence of the little girls parading along with them who (in the good old days) were already in training to eventually become prostitutes in their own right. However, the "reenactment" Oiran and Tayuu of today are only a fake shell of the original --- all you get is a little song and dance, a lot of high fashion, and...no sex.
For what it's worth, most Japanese today would take issue with half of what I just said above, deny that Japanese children were EVER involved in ANY form of prostitution --- either directly, or as assistants, or "students" in the trade --- and that being a foreigner, I would have NO idea or understanding about such things in Japan, anyway.
It should be made perfectly clear that an OIRAN is NOT A GEISHA...and a GEISHA is NOT A PROSTITUTE. If I do not say that, someone named LIZA DALBY will take out a contract on my life, with the killer instructed to beat me to death with a giant slab of raw tuna fish laced with wasabi.
Mmmmmmmmm. Yummy ! What a way to die !
PS. Okinawa_Soba has absolutely nothing against ADULT prostitution --- either morally or socially --- as a free enterprise affair where the woman enters the business as a qualified adult, does it out of a love of sex (and not necessarily a love for her customers), engages in it happily by her own free will as a true Nymphomaniac, and remains un-coerced by men in her decision to sell herself, and un-motivated by dire financial need in order to survive (to be taken advantage of by men with money in their pockets)......all while fully accepting the potential health consequences of her decision to take on as many men as possible, while absolving the taxpayer of all liability for costs involved in dealing with her related health issues, possible abortions, and the raising of any fatherless children produced by her liaisons with paying customers.
And I have nothing against single men frequenting the prostitutes described above, as long as all of their other bills are paid first, they use a full body condom, stick to the same prostitute, and get checked for AIDS and other STDs every two months.
If you are a married man, the same rules apply, but you can't sleep with your wife while you are frequenting prostitutes, and for 6 months after you've stopped sleeping with them.......and have been given a clean bill of health before touching your wife again.
By the way, the above parameters are still "on hold" and "under construction", and "subject to change"...... just as soon as I hold a meeting of all prostitutes and their customers who fulfill the above requirements, and I can get their opinions on the matter....which will never happen....