Response to Saikaku

This reading deals with a formalized courtesan culture, which had surprisingly developed so early on in the Tokugawa era, and the so called “tricks of the trade” one could say.  In Sakuran when the Oiran originally offered to teach Kiyoha some “tricks” I thought “Oh, so she is going to teach a twelve year old to have sex among other things revolving around the act.”  The tricks go much further than simply trying to pleasure a man.  A truly keen courtesan must become a master of  sex, and manipulation.   Not necessarily a femme fatale sort of manipulation, rather subtle ways a woman can employ her sexuality in her favor.  For example, when a courtesan did not want to engage in an act with a particularly unsavory customer she will pretend to fall asleep out of boredom, and the loading moaning sounds coming through the thin brothel walls around make the man feel as if he is not a sufficient lover.  Kiyoha would just flat out refuse.  The courtesan must also convey herself with the outmost refinement and beauty, flaunting the latest fashions preferably gifted by a wealthy suitor, meticulously coiffed hair, a gait that allows her to almost float through a room, and what I found to be the most interesting “a butt flat as an opened fan.” These courtesans do not fit the notion of a cheap floozy that many Americans might associate with prostitutes.  They look almost like royalty.

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