Oiran, or tayuu, were the undisputed queens of the pleasure quarters in Japan from the 17th century on to 1957. More "trophy wives" or "paid girlfriends" than whores, they were by law confined to the red-light districts where they lived and worked, and were nicknamed "castle destroyers" for their expensive habits and exorbitant fees.

Like their counterparts in modern day Southern California, oiran favored big hair, heavy makeup, large amounts of gold and precious stones, long nails, platform shoes, and suffered from that strange metabolic condition that demanded that they show a great deal of chest, back and ankle, but were always cold, enough to need heavy, quasi-legal clothing at all times. Having no furriers handy, oiran made do by wearing five or more kimonos over each other in open defiance of sumptuary law, which held that only those in Court circles could wear brocade, and no one, except royalty could wear more than four layers.

An evening with one of these women was a carefully choreographed experience, from waiting outside the gate at sundown to being awoken before daybreak. There would be food, served by a little slip of a maid, two or three geisha to play music and dance, and finally, the oiran herself, attended by two little girls. Sexual favors included everything from role reversal, S&M, to the exotic, forbidden caress known as "kissing".

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