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    Since medieval times Japan has always had some form of pleasure quarter offering various forms of entertainment, including, of course, the erotic. However, it was during the Edo period’s sakoku (1639-1854) when Japan cut off all ties with the outside world, that Japanese culture, as it is known today, flourished.

    It was in these walled pleasure quarters such as Kyoto’s Shimabara, Tokyo’s Yoshiwara, and Osaka’s Shinmachi that the chonin (merchants) spent much of their time and money cultivating the arts. With carnal satisfaction guaranteed, the merchants looked for other forms of entertainment.

    "The women in these guarded quarters were "playmates" (yuujo) or prostitutes (shougi). The highest ranked were called oiran or "great court ladies" (tayuu). These women were dubbed "castle-destroyers" (keisei) because their sex appeal, like the mythical beauties of history, could destroy a man as easily as any army. These courtesans wore layers of ornately decorated kimono and a multitude of lacquer and tortoiseshell combs in their hair. Their wide, brocaded obi were tied in front — not, as some suppose, because it was easier to undress that way, but because that was the practice of married women and a yuujo was, in a sense, a wife for an evening. " (Liza Dalby)

    The courtesans of the pleasure quarters were trained in various arts: music, dance and poetry as well as other forms of court entertainment that, until that time, had been reserved for nobility. As times changed so did the tastes of the customers; the formality and expense involved meant only the elite were able to patronize the Tayu (the top level courtesans).

    With the change in attitudes came a new type of entertainer. It was in the early 1700s when the first male-geisha appeared on the scene. However, it was not long before some entrepreneurial female entertainers followed suit and the first women geisha, as we know them today, made their debut

    Today there are only 4 remaining Tayu practicing in Kyoto (minus the sexual aspects).

    This image has been uploaded for educational purposes. I realize the colors and light are not so nice. m(- -)m

    Demipoulpe, Claude Renault Photography, and 87 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 2 more comments

    1. aitai 84 months ago | reply

      her head looks so heavy!

    2. Royce Okobo [deleted] 84 months ago | reply

      Its ok! All of your photos are nice! I thought it was spelled Yujo, but i could be wrong . (>_<) Lucky you got to be by a Tayuu! What's the difference between an oiran and tayuu?

    3. Korin Hime [deleted] 84 months ago | reply

      oh my goodness
      I would kill to see a Tayuu!!
      just kidding...but you're sooo lucky!
      Nice picture!

    4. Silcami 84 months ago | reply

      Thanks very much for al your explanations.

    5. wadiefong 84 months ago | reply

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I appreciate the explanations. Your work is very beautiful

    6. moonjazz 83 months ago | reply

      excellent travel shot, very lovely

    7. Royce Okobo [deleted] 82 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Pleasure Quarters of Kyoto, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

      It's my newest group! Please join, Melissa! It would mean the world to me! Even join geiko and maiko if you'd like! Thanks!

    8. Francys 81 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Wonder Woman, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

    9. Tanya Del Angel 81 months ago | reply

      Just AWESOME!!!

    10. sunshine's creations 76 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Kanzashi, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

    11. valeyoshino 74 months ago | reply

      Melissa, did you meet Takasago Tayu? Do you know her?

    12. Miegiku 71 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called The Pleasure Quarters, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    13. jalalspages 69 months ago | reply

      Beautiful and Eyecatching!!

      I'm an admin for a group called Jalalspages Attire and Fashion (Post1 Comment 2), and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    14. Makoto-san (luv Mayuha) 65 months ago | reply

      Royce Okobo, the difference between them is: TAYUU are from Kyoto and they still work. OIRAN are from Tokyo but they don't work anymore. That's the most important thing to understand them. Other difference is the appearance.

    15. flavoraware 48 months ago | reply

      Tayu, 太夫, means "Great Lord." The Tayu, notably, the famed Yoshino Dayu, for whom the vast quantities of cherry trees are named in Japan, elevated the profession to an art form. The Tayu would later inspire the creation of Geisha and Geiko, "art women."

      An Oiran was simply the highest ranked prostitute of Yoshiwara, the prostitution quarter of Tokyo. A Tayu worked in Shimabara, Kyoto, performed her art, and did not have to sleep with guests. Oiran and other yuujo of Yoshiwara were not allowed to leave the quarter. The women of Shimabara could come and go as they pleased. There are many more differences.

      There are several still practicing Tayu in Shimabara, Kyoto. Yes, for example, Takasago Dayu. For more information, I suggest you check out flavoraware.com . It is largely about Tayu and Shimabara.

    16. SONIA YEBRA 42 months ago | reply

      Preciosa la foto. La flor kanzashi las hago yo y diseño diademas para que las niñas en españa vayan todas guapas. ¡felicidades por las fotos!

    17. yuki_willy_v 37 months ago | reply

      , I realize that u made that comment centuries ago aha. Yujo is the name given to common, low ranking prostitutes while Tayu/Oiran is the name given to high ranking courtesans. Its the difference between a street walker and a Madam. >.<

    18. Makoto-san (luv Mayuha) 37 months ago | reply

      , Tayu were allowed to leave the district as they pleased? Really? I din't know that. I know that as Yoshiwara, Shimabara were bilt with the same purpose, so I believe the laws were the same.

    19. yuki_willy_v 37 months ago | reply

      , one may think that, however just by looking at the vast differences between the Tayu and the Oiran, one can see that they 'evolved' on very separate tracks.

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