Last week I time-traveled to historic Japan at Japan Chubu (57, 253, 23). It is a perfect place to learn about Japanese history and have fun, too. The sim is set in the Edo era, approximately 1600 to 1800 A.D., when shoguns and samurai flourished. Japan Chubu is a role play sim, but residents who aren’t into RP can visit to simply relax in a beautiful, tranquil setting. The area includes a Japanese castle, temple, village, and other structures, many of which are replicas of real-life Japanese architecture.
Upon arrival I found a box of free items, including traditional clothes for both men and women. In order to keep the authentic feel of the sim, everyone is asked to dress in traditional outfits. I quickly changed clothes and returned.
At the landing point is the Edo Bridge. Festive Japanese lanterns float in the river and made me feel calm and serene. I decided to walk into the village and explore it first. As in real-life, geisha houses (Okiya), rickshaws, and samurai can be found here. There are sampans available, too, so that the sim can be explored by water.
In the village there are lots of walkways and alleys to explore. Many of the shops were empty, but the sim is actively recruiting merchants who can offer items that will fit in with the time and history of this era.
I walked into what I thought was a traditional tea house and had a cup of Tao red tea. Later I found that I had wandered into the in Shiraito-no-Taki Hanamachi Geisha district. The group is named for a real life waterfall, White Treads Waterfalls, located near Mount Fuji in one of Japan’s national parks.
There are two Geisha houses which both perform and teach classes relating to Japan. The Otonashi Okiya is set in the Edo period, while the Otodome Okiya is located on a different sim and set in modern time. Some of the classes offered are Japanese history, Kitsuke (kimonos), Hogaku (Japanese music), Shodō (calligraphy), Ikebana (flower arrangement), and many others. One can also learn to be a Geisha, and information is available at the sim.
As with many Japanese sites, much of the attention is focused on the Samurai. At one point I received a notecard asking if I was interested in joining the Keibatsu Samurai Clan. According to their notecard, the Keibatsu Samurai practice Bushidō, "Way of the Warrior". Although Samurai are interesting, they are only part of the culture of the era. During my visits I met two women who are representative different classes that existed within Edo Japan.
I met 真由美 (mayumi.juriya), who is a maid in a Samurai’s house. Mayumi was very polite and bowed humbly when we met. I was very interested in her life, and she graciously answered my questions. She described the Samurai that she works for as “a kind, honorable man” who has “high standards”. She said the work was hard, but she has a place to live and is grateful for that. I asked her whether she planned to stay as a maid or move into a different position. 真由美 (mayumi.juriya) said, “Well, I'm not sure at the moment. Of course, I'd like to be independent someday. Maybe work in a shop or a tea house. Have my own machiya.” A machiya, I learned, is a traditional townhouse. Unfortunately we were interrupted by another visitor before I could ask her any more questions.
The other woman I met was Misaki (princesschaos.xenno). Misaki is the head Oiran at Yukaku Utsukushi Hana. Unlike the shy maid, Misaki was very outgoing. She wears beautiful gowns, her hair and make-up look perfect, and she lives and works in a beautiful home, located at Yukaku Utsukushi Hana, Aosagi (96, 77, 22). We met in one of the shops. Although she doesn’t live at Chubu Japan, she visits it often.
Misaki invited me to her home where we could talk. Her lands are public, and she invites residents to visit and enjoy her garden and surroundings. She graciously invited me to have tea or sake, but since I was working, I politely refused. Below are some of the highlights of our discussion.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Welcome to Yukaku Utsukushi Hana.
Grey Lupindo: This is lovely.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Arigatou/ Thank you
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Please take off shoes if you have any on.
Grey Lupindo: I have sandals that I got at Edo. Should those come off?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/Yes. Yes, if you can.
Grey Lupindo: Can you tell me a little about what you do here in SL? How you got involved?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/yes. Well, here in SL, I am the head Oiran at Yukaku Utsukushi Hana. As head Oiran I go out and tell people about my Yukaku. I also try to find girls who would like to train here, and I entertain patrons.
Grey Lupindo: How is this connected to Edo?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Oiran are from the Edo period and were around way before geisha even existed. People would come from far and wide to get pleasured by an Oiran and to see their arts, such as playing music and doing traditional Japanese dancing. ... Oiran were trained in how to dance, talk, and play Japanese instruments. They wore the finest clothing from the time. Oiran lived in big, beautifully designed houses called Yukaku.
Grey Lupindo: Ah, like this one.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): The Yukaku were inside of places called Pleasure Quarters. The Oiran could not leave these places unless brought out by a client. Because this is SL, we do not make you stay here 24/7.
Grey Lupindo: That's good. (smile)
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Geisha lived in houses called Okiya. They were allowed to leave and come back to live. The Okiya also were not in places of pleasure.
Grey Lupindo: Were they both during the same time period?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): No and Yes. When Geisha first emerged, the main thing that they did was perform for the Oiran's clients. But... (later)... the Oiran learned the arts as well.
Grey Lupindo: Oh, I see. Do you have clients here in SL?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/yes. Yes, but they are called patrons.
Grey Lupindo: Do Oiran have only one patron or more than that?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Well, patrons are just people who come to the yukaku for services or they come for events and to support the yukaku. So I have something like 30 patrons, I think.
Grey Lupindo: It sounds like you are very popular. (smile)
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): This Yukaku has 27 patrons.
Grey Lupindo: How many Oiran live here?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Right now I am the only Oiran, and I have 1 kamuro named Chieko Chan.
Grey Lupindo: What does kamuro mean?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Kamuro are child attendants here at the Yukaku. They learn the arts and other things that they need to know.
Grey Lupindo: I see. Do you play musical instruments here or sing? You mentioned the arts.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): I play musical instruments and talk to patrons. I pour them sake and tea. I dance for them, and if they want sexual services I do that as well.
Grey Lupindo: How long have you been an Oiran here in SL?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): A couple of months. I trained at 2 Yukaku before I opened my own.
Grey Lupindo: What do you like best about being an Oiran?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hmmm. That is a hard question. I would have to say entertaining patrons and, of course, the fashions.
Grey Lupindo: Can you tell me a little about your beautiful outfit?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/yes. My hair style is the traditional Japanese hairstyle called Yokohyogo. Yokohyogo is mainly only worn by oiran. My skin is the Ukiyo Nightingale Oiran skin.
Grey Lupindo: Very nice.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): My kimono is from a dear friend. She owns a store called Sugary Burikko. The kimono is called Oiran Shirotsuki kimono.
Grey Lupindo: It is lovely.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): The shoes I always wear are called Koma geta or Taka geta. They are 5 inches high. Geta are worn by oiran and never worn with tabi. Oiran do not wear tabi.
At this point I looked to see if the socks I had received at Edo were Tabi, the traditional Japanese socks that are ankle-high, with a separation between the big toe and other toes. Tabi are worn by both men and women, but I’m not sure they fit foxettes. I couldn’t see my toes, but I nevertheless tucked them further under my kimono.
While I was checking my clothing, Misaki was looking in her inventory.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): I gave you a picture of a RL Oiran.
Grey Lupindo: Thank you. Reminds me of Shogun.
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/yes. You’re welcome.
Grey Lupindo: Do you go to Edo a lot?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Yes, I do go to Hosai Mura a lot. I like it there, and the people are very nice.
Grey Lupindo: Are you part of the RP there?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): No, I am not part of RP there.
Grey Lupindo: Would you train other Oiran?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/yes. I do now. I have a kamuro. The ranks go kamuro, shinzo, oiran.
Grey Lupindo: How long will it take your kamuro to move to shinzo?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): It is all about the girls. The sooner they train and catch on and learn, the sooner they move up.
Grey Lupindo: Does she live here?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Well, she comes here to train so she kind of lives here. I am not here a lot myself.
Grey Lupindo: Have you ever had any problem with a patron getting mean or abusive?
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): No, not patrons. But I have had issues with people calling me a whore, telling me oiran means whore. But Oiran-- the word itself means first flower. And this is SL so I do not know where people get these things from.
Grey Lupindo: Yes, most people are nice, but there are a few...
Misaki (princesschaos.xenno): Hai/yes.
Unfortunately I soon had to leave SL and the historic Edo period. I found both Misaki and Mayumi to be interesting women who represent different lifestyles within historic Japanese culture.