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

How do brothels work in 1630s Japan?

Cut for classiness.

So this novel I'm working on features a very tiny brothel set just outside of Takasaki-shuku. It's basically a prison/refuge; the girls who work there are either sent there as punishment for crimes, or are allowed to live and work there rather than get arrested and punished for illegally leaving their villages. So it's not a high-class place like, say, Yoshiwara; they don't have the money for tayuu culture (only three girls work there; originally there were six, but one was bought out to be a concubine, one killed herself, and another ran away). It's also blatantly a whorehouse; they aren't legally allowed the...dignity, I suppose, of at least pretending that the place is a "teahouse *wink wink*". Their main clients would be the merchants who live and work in Takasaki-shuku, and travelers (since the town is, after all, a post station).

How exactly is business conducted in a place like this? I'm assuming that only high-class, in-demand places like Yoshiwara made appointments, is that correct? I've also seen screen paintings of pleasure quarters that made it seem like, before sex, guests would be entertained in a parlor. Would this only take place if the brothel was fronted by a teahouse and the girls were pretending to be waitresses/hostesses?

The current way I envision business being conducted is that when the place opens in the evening, the girls would be waiting in the parlor, where they would entertain guests with flirting, games, drinking, and music; as the night went on they would disappear upstairs with a man, do their business, and then come back down and start the process over again. Is this an accurate, or at least a plausible, method of doing business, given the place's circumstances? Would it be more like a "Line them up and the guy picks one" type deal? Would appointments still be made, regardless of the low standing of this place? Or am I free to decide how I want this place to be run?

Further questions: Would the place be open all day, or just at night? If there is a bad snowstorm, can the place be legally closed for the duration? Would the man not sleeping over, or the woman having sex with multiple partners per night, be shocking or totally expected?

*Please note that if you have literature on the subject, I can't use anything that talks about Yoshiwara, Shinmachi, or place with money or good legal standing. We are strictly talking a poor whorehouse outside a post town that's staffed with criminal vagrants.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Tags: 1600-1699, japan: history, ~prostitution

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