Sumiya Motenashi-no-Culture Museum

Kyoto, Japan

Sumiya Motenashi-no-Culture Museum


Shimabara (嶋原) (often simplified to 島原, sometimes styled 嶌原) was the designated red light district (yūkaku) in Kyoto, and was later also a geisha district (hanamachi). Established in 1640, Shimabara, following the outlawing of sex work in Japan became defunct as a red-light district in the 1950s, later becoming defunct as a geisha district in the 1970s. Shimabara continues to operate as a tourist district, however, operating one ochaya and hosting tayū re-enactors.

Before the establishment of Shimabara, earlier courtesan districts were established: first 二条柳町 (Second street willow town) in 二条万里小路 (nijō made no kōji) in 1589 with the permission of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, which was moved to 六条三筋町 in 六条 (Sixth street) when the Edo period started, which was then moved to Shimabara in 1640/41.

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