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Oiran Dochu Procession 2018, Yoshiwara, Tokyo

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A return to the red-light district of the old Edo era


A few years back I attended the Oiran Dochu Procession in Tokyo for the first time – a unique event held annually to recognise high-class courtesans from the Edo period. This weekend, I made the trip back out east to see it again, and was reminded of the striking appearance of the oiran – prostitutes and entertainers who roamed the pleasure districts of Tokyo hundreds of years ago. From 1600 until 1958, Yoshiwara, the area where the event takes place, was once home to some of the most famous brothels in Japan – an enormous red-light district with musicians, masked dancers and all sorts of ‘colourful’ goings on.


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