Oiran Parade in Tokyo 2016 / 花魁道中

Oiran Parade in Tokyo 2016 / 花魁道中

Last weekend I headed to Asakusa to see the Oiran Parade (花魁道中 oiran douchuu) which I was waiting for so long after missing the last one.

An Oiran (花魁) was a courtesan (aka. prostitute) back in the days. Especially the highest ranked Oiran, called Tayuu (太夫) were not only offering physical love but actually were talented entertainers and artists. Tayuu were something like Superstars in old time. Their beauty and status was admired by many.

Tayuu could choose their clients and such needed to try to appeal and impress for about 3 times before actually being allowed to follow her into the bedroom. One night with a Tayuu costed about an annual salary of an average worker!

Since prostitution is officially banned in Japan now, the oiran have died out. Recently the Yoshiwara (吉原) district, a former red light district of Asakusa holds this annual parade to show the beauty and tradition of Oiran.

The parade walked up the street to the stage, showed some traditional ceremony they used to hold with a potential customer and afterwards they walked back down the street.
Beforehand some Japanese kids pop group and sword fight were shown too, but I will not cover those here.

Due to the event getting super crowded, I would recommend to come rather early if you want to be able to see something on the stage.
My tactical move was to come 1-2 hours before the main oiran show. It paid off and I could see from the front row.

Let’s enjoy some visuals now:
Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

The stage play simulated a customer meeting with a Tayuu, trying to win her sympathy to be accepted as a customer.
Oiran douchuu 2016

In order from left to right:
The girls in the red kimono are called Kamuro (禿) and are assistants of the oiran.
In the middle is the Tayuu (太夫) the highest ranked Oiran.
On the right are the Furisode Shinzou (振袖新造) apprentice Oiran who hope to become a Tayuu some day. They learn from the Tayuu.

Oiran douchuu 2016

After sitting down the Furisode Shinzou proceed to greet the customer and serve him some sake. If the Tayuu later drinks from the same cup it means that she accepts this customer to sleep with her in the future.
Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

This year they had two Tayuu present so here is the second one. The show was the same.
Oiran douchuu 2016

After the previously explained ceremonial act of sharing the sake cup, the Tayuu will sit down next to the customer and stuff the pipe and lit it for him to smoke.
Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

After the ceremony a group picture was taken before they proceeded to walk back the street.
Oiran douchuu 2016

All the colors and details – so breathtaking!
Oiran douchuu 2016

In order to see the group walking I changed position and walked down the street as I couldn’t see well from my position at the stage.

Fox dancers lead the group.
Oiran douchuu 2016

Next up are the Tekomai (手古舞)
Oiran douchuu 2016

Ahhh so beautiful!
Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

The man on the right is the Katakashi no Otokoshuu (肩貸しの男衆) – the lending shoulder man (if translated one to one).
You might have noticed all the layers of heavy silk and the big wig with decoration and the large platform sandals – all that weighs about 30 kg (66 lbs)! That is a heavy burden, so she uses this man as a support to not trip over.
(I think its kinda funny how the mans face looks like the burden on his shoulder must be very heavy. Haha)
Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

The Tayuu has a distinct walking style in these platforms with sweeping them outwards like this. It is part of the art and beauty.
Oiran douchuu 2016

Oiran douchuu 2016

It was a very beautiful event and I am super grateful that the weather was nice.

If you would like to see this event when in Tokyo I include the infos as below.
However please check the details again before the trip due to the event possibly changing in date location and schedule.

DETAILS:

Actual event name is “Asakusa Kannon Uraichi Yousakura Matsuri” (浅草観音うら一葉桜まつり)
– Date: Usually beginning or mid-April / 10 am to 4 pm
– Location: Asakusa (浅草) (5-10 min walk north of the Senso-ji Temple)
Closest address to search on google: 東京都台東区浅草5-6-3  (5-6-3 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo) – You will see the crowds of people when getting close.

The stage will be on the right side of the marked blue route. They will move to and from the stage via the blue marked path.

Asakusa Oiran douchuu location

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Love, Anji

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Comments (2)

  • Laura Reply

    This article is absolutely amazing! I would love to experience the Oiran Douchuu but I always come to Japan during New Year to take advantage of the sales XD The oiran and tayuu are so gorgeous!

    April 15, 2016 at 1:59 AM
    • Anji SALZ Reply

      Hey Laura,
      Thanks so much for reading and your comment!
      Yes, seeing them in real is quite something, so graceful and all the pretty colors 🙂
      But taking all the lucky bags for the new years sale is also not bad 😉 Haha! Have a great week ahead!

      April 18, 2016 at 4:30 PM

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