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; by the 1970s, no geisha were registered in Shimabara. Tayū, who never disappeared entirely from Shimabara, were allowed to register as a special type of geisha following the outlawing of prostitution, and continue to perform in the district to this day. Shimabara continues to operate as a tourist district, and operates one ochaya.

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

Thumbnail image credited to 上田隼人 at Japanese WikipediaAdditional info

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