Oiran Parade : The screamingly bright colors!
Shinagawa Shukuba Festival is held on the last Saturday and Sunday of September every year. We just had one two weeks ago. One performance you should not miss is the parade of oiran (courtesans) wearing beautiful Kimono. If you are lucky, you will have an opportunity to watch one of those oiran parades in Japan during autumn as these Oiran parade are included in Japanese autumn festivals as one of the highlights of the event.
So, here are some tips to enjoy oiran parade.
In edo period, the oiran would dress in their best costumes to go and collect their valued customers and bring them to the teahouse on a special day. Then they would parade around the area of the pleasure quarter with their most beautiful clothing on display.
This included the wearing of two combs, and six Japanese hairpins in the front and six in the back. This style of Japanese hairpin was a sign of nobility back then. It is amazing that they can hold their head high and straight with all that weight! Above is from this year's parade. She is my favorite oiran of this year. So pretty!
Oiran's wig and geta clogs weigh the same (about 7 kg or 15 pounds each). This is in order to keep her head and feet balanced. As long as I searched on the internet, her whole outfit usually weighs about 60 pounds (27 kg). That's why she needs the guy's shoulder for support as she walks.
Unlike normal kimono, she wears the obi in the front instead of the back. This is so that she can show off her beautiful obi which would otherwise be covered by the outer garment. Look at all those layers and padding! The screamingly bright colors!
The kamuro attendants precede the oiran. In order to be considered as an oiran, a woman had to be educated in a number of skills, including in the traditional arts of tea, flower and calligraphy. They are also expected to be knowledgeable in scholarly matters. It was essential that courtesans had the abilities to carry witty and intelligent conversation and always thoughtful. Kamuro are little girls selected to be future oiran and they are trained to behave as such in many ways from their childfood.
We have a lot of oiran ladies in today's movies and drama. Oiran are always very sophisticated and cool people. (As is often the case, there are a couple of mean ladies who wish to be an oiran celebrity but not live up to its standard)
To learn more about Oiran, please read