Vision Over Visibility (luna_glass_wall) wrote in little_details,
Vision Over Visibility

Women's Issues in a 1600s Japanese Whorehouse

Cut just in case.

My story takes place in a tiny brothel just outside Takasaki, Japan in the 1630s (ear Edo/Tokugawa Era). I have a few questions...

1. I've read that menstruation was considered impure, and that not only were menstruating women barred from attending a shrine while bleeding (which I can totally believe), they were also supposed to shut themselves up in a gekkei-goya for the duration of their period and about a week after, after which they had to wash off in a natural body of water. However, I've only seen the gekkei-goya mentioned in articles that are pushing a "Japan is the lost tribe of Israel" agenda, and don't want to trust a clearly biased source. this true?
1a. If it is true, would this be done in a brothel, especially one with only a three-girl staff? I can have the characters eschew tradition in favor of practicality, but if they do that they would probably mention it to the newest additions to the house.
1b. One of my characters, Noriko, is going to get her period unexpectedly early while with a customer (a younger teen who is a first-time visitor to a brothel). Would there be an expected reaction from the patron and Noriko based on the culture (like, he'd be terrified, or angry, or disgusted, and she'd be intensely apologetic, because that's what the culture demands), or can I leave that up to character? (Either way there's no sex for Noriko that night.)
1bi. Does wetnursing affect a woman's period? Noriko has been a wet nurse for another girl's baby for several days at this point (she eats nettle to help accomplish this); would that cause a menstrual cycle to go off schedule? It doesn't particularly matter, but if it does I could work it into the dialogue.

2. One of the characters, Haruka, comes to the brothel as she is in labor; she has a baby on the floor of the main room. (Of course they purify the area before customers come.) The house doesn't have an ubugoya (hut for a pregnant, laboring, or post-natal mother to live in) set up for her since they obviously weren't expecting something like that to happen, but they do have two areas that were designated as storage rooms for food. One is in the house, and the other is behind the house; it's currently in use as a barn, however. It's also the dead of winter and therefore insanely cold, and both mother and baby are very delicate in health. Given these facts, would it be totally unthinkable that they would put Haruka and Emi (the baby) in the in-house storage room? Would they remove the food first? Would they have to perform certain purifying rituals?
2a. Also, if the gekkei-goya thing is true, could an ubugoya realistically double as a gekkei-goya?

Again, I can have the characters eschew tradition in favor of practicality; they are rather poor and very very low class (the house's owners are a merchant and a disgraced miko, and the working girls are either runaways or exiles) and thus they could realistically reject anything considered high culture, or even middle-class culture, if they couldn't afford it or personally resented it. I would just want to know if this was the case, because they'd probably have to explain it to Haruka and Yoshiro (her brother who came with her), as they are the audience proxies in some respects..

Terms searched include "gekkei-goya", "ubugoya", and "menstruation", in conjunction with "japan", "edo", "japan edo", or "tokugawa".
Tags: 1600-1699, japan: history, ~prostitution

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