July 24th, 2014

Brothels in 1300s Japan


The question I'm trying to figure out is this: What were brothels like during the 1300s in Japan? Things like how might they have been run, was there any sort of system like there was later, what might the prospects have been for the women there (miserable, I'm sure)? I know that they didn't really exist until the Kamakura period, and what they were like from the 1600s on.

My story is a historical fiction, set in Japan. A major part of Part I of the book takes place in a brothel in/around Kyoto, from roughly 1288-1373 CE. The main character is a prostitute. I have a good idea of what prostitution was like in the periods preceding and following this, but the histories I've managed to find leave the Muromachi period a big white blank.

Most of my current portrayal of the character's situation and the brothel has come from inferring backwards, taking the information available for the later periods and projecting back to what that might have come from. I'm personally not satisfied with doing that for a whole section of the book.

I've read all the posts under the "Prostitution" and "Japan - History" tags here on Little-Details to try and glean an answer. Some were very helpful, but I was hoping someone might have even speculation or a resource that I don't.

I've been researching, or trying to research brothels in this time period in Japan for upwards of two years, and have come up largely empty. I've all but stopped perusing the internet, out of frustration and a consistent lack of results, and turned to university libraries, journals, and databases.

The works I own and/or have referenced extensively trying to answer this question are:

A Handbook to Daily Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan
Selling Songs And Smiles: The Sex Trade in Heian and Kamakura Japan
The Nightless City
Women of the Pleasure Quarters
The Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work
Pinning Down the Floating World
Selling Women
Shadows of Transgression - Heian and Kamakura Constructions of Prostitution (dissertation)
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not - Shinju and Shikido Okagami
Fertility and Pleasure: Ritual and Sexual Values in Tokugawa Japan
Tsumi - Offence and Retribution in Early Japan
Writing Margins: The Textual Construction of Gender in Heian and Kamakura Japan
A number of books on prostitutes as a whole, and a number of books on Kamakura and Muromachi politics and history.

I'm currently trying to find a copy of Flowers in Salt on a recommendation.

Any theories, speculation, information, books - whatever - anyone has would be of great help to me.

Thank you very much for your time.