O I R A N : 花魁 (by mboogiedown)
“A rare sight, even in Kyoto! An Oiran ducks beneath the curtain of an exclusive ryotei (traditional Japanese dining establishment) during an evening procession beneath the cherry blossoms….
Oiran were the high class courtesans of Edo Period Japan’s famous pleasure quarters. The highest ranking among them, according to their beauty, character, educational attainments and artistic skills, were known as Tayuu, and were patronized by only the wealthiest and most influential clients, including the Daimyo, or feudal lords.
To entertain their clients, oiran practiced the arts of dance, music, poetry and calligraphy, and an educated wit was considered essential to sophisticated conversation.
The isolation within the closed districts resulted in the oiran becoming highly ritualised in many ways and increasingly removed from the changing society. Strict etiquette ruled the standards of appropriate behavior. Their speech preserved the formal court standards rather than the common language. A casual visitor would not be accepted; their clients would summon them with a formal invitation, and the oiran would pass through the streets in a formal procession with a retinue of servants. The costumes worn became more and more ornate and complex, culminating in a style with eight or more pins and combs in the hair, and many prescribed layers of highly ornamented garments derived from those of the earliest oiran from the early Edo period. Similarly, the entertainments offered also were derived from those of the original oiran generations before. Ultimately, their culture grew increasingly rarefied and remote from everyday life, and their clients dwindled.
Today only a few (I think there are 4) women who continue to keep the art of the Oiran alive (minus the sexual aspect).”