“A Tayuu (Japanese Courtesan) with numerous Kogai (sword-shaped hairpins) indicating her rank and holding a string of Juzu (Buddhist Prayer Beads) in her hand, she is flanked by two Shinzo (Female Attendants) who are wearing traditional plum-blossom headdresses and are holding flowering tree branches, a young Kamuro (Child Attendant) stands in the front holding a lacquerware box.
Prayer beads were an important component of social and religious life in Japan. The beads were carried by both monks and lay citizens to ceremonial events. All tea-houses had a hook on the wall for hanging prayer beads and an important or unusual set gave prestige to the tea-house. They were usually made of fruit-wood, such as, cherry, peach, or plum, but they could also be made of gold alloy, crystal, coral, amber,etc. Kyoto was well-known as a centre of manufacture for Juzu, some of which were exquisitely carved and inordinately expensive.” (source)