Shimabara Procession

***** Location: Kyoto
***** Season: Late Spring
***** Category: Humanity


Procession in the pleasure quarters of Kyoto

Shimabara no taiyuu no doochuu
島原の大夫の道中 (しまばらのたゆうのどうちゅう)

Shimabara taiyuu no doochuu 島原大夫の道中

On April 21.

Shimabara is the name of the famous geisha quarters in Kyoto.

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Famous geisha in special dresses parade through the pleasure quarters of Shimabara. They are dressed in traditional robes for the occasion, with black brocade overcoats. They wear special wooden clocks with three steps on their bare feet.
They are accompanied by young girls, kamuro 禿 . The paper umbrellas held over their heads show the signs of their patrons.

The last person in the procession is the "final umbrella", kasadome dayuu 傘止太夫, a geisha of the highest rank.

Shimabara Dayu

Worldwide use

Daruma and the Courtesans,
Onna Daruma, Oiran and Daruma

Things found on the way


ware mo mata tayu matsu naru hito no kage

me too, just
waiting for the Tayu,
just one of the crowd

Takahama Kyoshi

Tr. Larry Bole
Translating Haiku Forum

The yoshiwara maintained a hierarchy and strict ceremonial code. Its rules of etiquette and its established rituals imbued the quarter with an aura of refinement, mystery, and anticipation. The women there lived both at the extremes of poverty and enormous wealth and were ranked according to their beauty, character, educational level and accomplishments.

A courtesan of the highest ranking was designated a tayu, and she was worthy of being a companion to a daimyo, and was in fact known as daimyo dogo, or "daimyo's goods". A tayu received the education of a great lady, with emphasis on her calligraphy, poetry, and grammar, and was given an elegant name and addressed by her maids in the formal language of deference established at the court. A tayu did not meet her clients in the "green houses" but was summoned to a client's residence by formal invitation, sometimes for a duration of up to a week.

Her transit to her assignation was a matter of public display, as she formally processed through the streets accompanied by maids, kamuro, and parasol bearers. In many respects, a tayu was a cult figure in the yoshiwara and was the supreme ideal of femininity. Skilled in calligraphy, accomplished at poetry and the tea ceremony, witty and self-confident but also soft and yielding, innocent but experienced, available and faithful, a tayu was peerless and priceless.

Lust was never associated with a tayu; therein lay her value and the challenge. The hereditary names of the most famous tayu in a "green house" were often drawn from classical literature or from the names of famous locales, and were passed down only to succeeding generations of courtesans worthy of the name.
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Related words

***** Miyako Odori .. "Dance of the Capital" in Kyoto

***** Kamogawa Odori .. Kamogawa Dance in Kyoto

***** Naniwa Odori ... Naniwa Dance in Osaka

***** Azuma Odori .. Azuma Dance, Tokyo Dance


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