Shimabara tayu rice cake pounding party
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HOME In various places in Japan Vol. 001

Hotel Brighton City
Kyoto Yamashina

Date taken / Dec 24, 2001


This is a scene from the "Shimabara Annual Event" held at Hotel Brighton City - Yamashina. I was invited to this event by an acquaintance of mine, Tsukasa-Tayu.
This "annual event of Shimabara" used to be one of the year-end traditions in Kyoto, but it was discontinued for 12 years. However, it was revived in 2001. I was invited to participate in the first event of its revival.

The following is what Tsukasa-Tayu had to say about the revival of "Shimabara's annual event".

This is a New Year's event in the district that has been held continuously since the beginning of Shimabara. Over the generations, many tayu have rolled out rice cakes and served them to the customers as a token of their gratitude. The men pound rice in matching happi coats. Geiko dance to the music of shamisen and drums. This is a festive event for women who have been living a monotonous life. However, it died out without a union, an opera house, or geiko. There were many obstacles to overcome in terms of funding, manpower, music, etc., but now that the century has changed, we decided that if we didn't do it here, we wouldn't be able to revive it!γ€€And so we started up. Now, with the cooperation of many people, we are reviving it!


Departing from Kyoto Daimaru, the procession of Tayu arrived at the venue.

This is Tsukasa-Tayu. However, the Tsukasa-tayu I know is the one who will be her mother,
and she will be the second Tsukasa-tayu.

Do you know the difference between a "tayu" and a "oiran"? γ€€ A tayu is the highest rank of a prostitute in Shimabara, Kyoto, and is the "name of the rank". A tayu, also called a kottai-san, is a licensed prostitute who has the fifth rank and is allowed access to the court. It is said to have the rank of 100,000 koku in the daimyo class. Shimabara is a Hanamachi, a town where parties are held, but it is not a town where sex is sold and bought like a brothel.


Tayuu and baldness (kaburo, kamuro). The term "kamuro" originally referred to a child's hairstyle that was
cropped to the shoulders. At some point, it came to refer to the children who lived in the brothels.

"Tosenkyo"γ€€ This is a game where you throw a fan and hit the target. I'm doing it,
but I can't quite hit the target. I thought it would be easy, but it was quite difficult.

Here, the caretakers take turns making rice cakes.

The second generation "Tsukasa Tayu" also carries a heavy pestle to make rice cakes.
She was a high school student at the time.

Mochi is kneaded by the tayu.

Tsukasa-tayu also kneads the mochi.

Commemorative photo with Tsukasa-tayu.