The Oiran Dochu is a procession of all the oirans working for the teahouse.
The highest ranking oiran is The Tayu , followed by the Koshi-joro (high ranking oiran below the Tayu) Hashi-joro (lower ranked oiran) followed by the Shinzo (Senior apprentices) and Kamuro (young students) and okaasan ( teahouse managers).
There were also Geisha and Maiko but they never got involved with the customers.
Ryuu in this fic is the Tayu
This procession is to honour the guests and patrons of the teahouse and it was a grandiose celebration in Yoshiwara where people gathered to watch the procession considering that the Oiran were considered to be a sort of celebrity.
Shotaimen: First Meeting
This chapter takes references from the actual meetings with the oiran . Not many people could afford renting an oiran from a teahouse because it included fees not only for the oiran but also their entourage of servants and assistants.
Very high ranking officials could afford the top ranking courtesans, but the Tayu had the power to cancel appointments if they didn’t find the client befitting their reputation. The Tayu had say in choosing their clients but lower ranking oiran did not have this kind of freedom. Once the Tayu approves of the client in the first meeting, they will allow the second and third meetings but the Tayu didn’t speak till after the third meeting.
Ryuu had approved of Bai Yu since the first meeting because it is there in his gestures. But he was silent because he was not supposed to speak till after the third meeting.
The Shoguns were powerful military warlords who were nominally appointed by the Emperor. Soon they became the dictator rulers of Japan and the Emperor and his Imperial court only held nominal authority.
The Government under the Shogun was known as the Bakufu.
The office of the Shogun was hereditary in nature but here the former Shogun is the uncle of the current Shogun because of the fact that he doesn’t have a direct heir to take his place when he stepped down from the office.
Shinsengumi was a special police force organised by the Bakufu. They were some of the skilled swordsmen in the country at that time.
Matsudaira Katamori is the leader of Shinsensgumi
Mimawarigumi was another special police force but not were they from different clans but they had a different jurisdiction.
Ryuu mentioned that an artist visited him for using him as a model for his paintings that were based on Yoshiwara.
At that time, Yoshiwara was the hub of fashion and cultural activities. Fashion changed rapidly but all of it was mostly influenced by the women of Yoshiwara and many artists tried to capture their beauty and essence of that time in their paintings.
Shamisen and other Performing Arts were an important part of training to become a successful oiran. They had to be a master of various skills to be able to entertain their guests.
Bai Yu is a foreign official but due to the wars in the past there is great suspicion surrounding his presence in Shogun’s court. Hence the current Shogun is using spies to keep an eye on him and his movements, they are specialised for spying (the ninja clans) and hence mostly people are unaware of them or their existence.
But the strange thing here is that Bai Yu is being followed by a man that is not deployed by the current Shogun but he is somebody who is loyal to the former Shogun. The Former Shogun, intends to make use of this man to instigate something that will cause a rift between the delicate relations between China and Japan because Bai Yu’s death (if that man had succeeded) would have caused an uproar between the two nations.
This chapter is very important because it is about Ryuu’s relationship with Sayaka.
Sayaka is Ryuu’s apprentice who is learning all sorts of Performing Arts under his skillful gaze. And eventually all of them will end up working as Oiran when they are of the right age. When a teahouse takes in a girl, they usually belong to poor families and are hence sold to Yoshiwara for money.
These children begin from the ranks of Kamuro, until they can become high ranking Oiran. In this process, the teahouse spends a lot of money on their education and basic needs which accumulates as debts. These debts have to be paid back to the teahouse when they begin working as Oiran. Not a lot of women have been able to buy their own freedom by paying back all their debts. They are usually bought by/married to a rich man or unfortunately most women die because of sexually transmitted diseases. Interestingly, there was no stigma against marrying former prostitutes.
Here, Ryuu has offered to pay the debt for Sayaka, when his own debts aren’t fully paid yet. It means that he has doubled his debts which seems foolish but he cares a lot for the child he picked up from the streets and he does not want to push her into this kind of work. It is the burden he is willing to take on for her, because she is someone who is special to him. As for debts, he doesn’t think they will end anytime soon but he did double his clients as mentioned by Sayaka in the previous chapter.
Hanami: Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry blossom festival usually occurs between late March and early April when the Cherry Blossom Trees are in full bloom. Lot of people flock to these places to enjoy the view with their families or their loved ones. It is a very significant festival in japan and celebrated with a generous amount of alcohol.
Yoshiwara has enjoyed considerable autonomy despite all the ruling warlords. It was originally built to restrict prostitution and was a secluded red light district in Edo.
But the district was never under the control of any ruler despite the several attempts made to conquer it as a part of their territory. However the person who established Yoshiwara banned the samurai from carrying their swords inside the premise which was often ignored as there was no power to enforce these rules as laws. There were other rules laid during the establishment as well which were all ignored later on as Yoshiwara was a lawless land not because the laws didn’t exist but because there was nobody to enforce them.
These facts will be important in later chapters as well, especially the next chapter.