yuukaku 遊廓
KEY WORD : architecture / folk dwellings
Also written 遊郭. The pleasure district of the early modern Japanese city. The earliest developed example is said to have been Yanagimachi 柳町 in Kyoto, founded in 1589 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1536-98). In the Edo period, the most famous districts were *Yoshiwara 吉原 in Edo, Shimabara 島原 in Kyoto, and Shinmachi 新町 in Osaka. However, the pleasure district was not confined to these three major cities, and was a feature of most early-modern cities. Typically, yuukaku was surrounded by a moat and entered by a great gate oomon 大門. The roads inside the district were laid out on an orthogonal grid and lined not only with the typical shops to be found in any township, such as rice merchants and soy manufacturers, but also with the specialized businesses peculiar to the pleasure quarter. These included *okiya 置屋, establishments offering entertainment by high-class prostitutes *ageya 揚屋, brothels *yuujoya 遊女屋, and tea houses employing prostitutes hikite jaya 引手茶屋. The district was the part of the Edo period city where the warrior class bushi 武士, and the ordinary townspeople met and mingled. The practice of lining both sides of street close to the main gate with willow trees yanagi 柳, derives from a similar feature found in the Chinese yuukaku . Also referred to as yuuri 遊里, kuruwa くるわ, irozato 色里, and iromachi 色町.


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