Arama They Didn't

6:52 pm - 01/28/2013

Girls’ Courtesan Kimonos Cause Coming of Age Controversy

(Woman on actual Coming of Age Day)

In Japan, the second Monday in January is a holiday known as ‘Seijin no hi’, or ‘Coming of Age Day’, when those who have reached the age of 20 in the past year celebrate the completion of their transition into adulthood with ‘seijin shiki’ [coming of age ceremonies].
Although the ceremony is usually held at a local government office, for many girls, preparing their hair and clothes for the event is of utmost importance. Usually, girls will wear a ‘furisode’ kimono, a style with long falling sleeves, that should only be worn by young, unmarried women. It often features bright floral patterns that represent the blossoming of youth.

This year, some girls from Shizuoka Prefecture have caused an online controversy by wearing furisode in an ‘oiran-style’, as popularised in some fashion magazines. The oiran were the high-class courtesans of Edo Japan, many of whom achieved celebrity during their lifetimes. Still, as the women were effectively prostitutes, netizens have reacted negatively to this new style, feeling it is inappropriate for a coming of age ceremony. As a result, the unsuspecting oiran-style girls are now at the centre of an online controversy.

Netizens Have Their Doubts About ‘Oiran-Style’ Furisode At Coming Of Age Ceremonies

On the January 15 broadcast of ‘Mezamashi TV’ (Fuji TV), girls who attended their coming of age ceremony in off the shoulder ‘oiran style’ furisode kimonos were featured, but Twitter users had their doubts.

In the same programme, young people attending coming of age ceremonies that were being held in the heavy snow in places around Tokyo was also broadcast. As a ‘fashion check’ of this year’s furisode kimonos, girls who had backcombed up-dos decorated with huge flowers and who wore platform zori were shown on the programme, but what particularly stood out was a group of oiran-style ‘gyaru’ [gals] with both shoulders exposed and their kimonos undone.

One girl who was interviewed, said, ‘It’s like an oiran style. I’m soooo cold, but I saw it in magazines and stuff and I fell in love with it.

One of the oiran girls from Shizuoka being interviewed. The captions read: ‘What is your dream?’ ‘To be rich.’

The interviewer then asks: ‘How rich?’. She replies, ‘So rich that I could buy Shizuoka.’

A representative magazine which featured this oiran-style furisode kimono is the ‘mook’ [magazine/book] ‘Kimono ageha’, published by the ‘gyaru’ fashion magazine ‘‘Koakuma ageha’‘ [literally 'little demon butterfly']

On the ‘Kimono ageha’ website ( it states, ‘Your once-in-a-lifetime coming of age ceremony. Colour the memories of that precious day with a sparkle. With styles like oiran, cosplay, or royal legends, from the modern to the ancient, leave the cutest Sweet Angel furisode in the universe to us!’

The 2013 edition of the magazine-book ‘Kimono ageha’.

But many Twitter users felt uncomfortable with these ‘oiran-style’ furisode that were created by
gyaru magazines, saying:’To wear an ‘oiran-style’ kimono for a coming of age ceremony is weird, no matter which way you look at it lol. I wonder if anyone around them stopped to look at them. If I did that to myself, my parents would cry for sure’; ‘I guess they don’t really know what kind of work the oiran did. I’d be way to embarrassed if my first steps as an adult were taken like this’; ‘I can understand if it was for the commemoration picture or whatever, but to do this in public is just a disgrace. It’s not that the oiran-style is bad, but they really should think about TPO [time, place, occasion]‘.

On the same day, at a coming of age ceremony in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu appeared, and gained attention for showing off a pink furisode kimono that featured unicorns and planets, but even Kyary, who has gathered support for her unique fashion, seemed normal in comparison to the oiran-style furisode girls.

Comments from


They just look cold

Wow, twenty year olds these days look pretty aged…she looks way older.

Strong smell of kyaba kura [hostess clubs] coming off those girls.

Before long they’ll be having their coming of age ceremonies in their underwear.

I guess that this kind of idiot won’t even regret it if they look back on the photographs in years to come…

She has the skin of a woman in her late thirties…..whatever. Yup, doesn’t matter.

I acknowledge their guts for baring their shoulders in that much snow.

Their poor parents…

If this is an adult, then they’re so retarded they should be thrown into a facility.

This is the perfect Japanese woman, Yamato Nadeshiko (・ω・)

Do they actually know what an oiran is? If they had that kind of knowledge, then they definitely wouldn't be going out looking like that.

This is Shizuoka. It’s totally in the middle of nowhere. Though I’ve never seen girls baring their shoulders, I have actually seen a girl with her hair dyed dark green, all backcombed up like that, with rhinestones and white ribbons in it. Her furisode was black with red flowers scattered on it, so I really thought that she looked so much like a Christmas tree.

Apologise! Look, just apologise to the oiran!!!

Well, I think that fashion is an individual thing, and that it doesn’t matter what you wear, but to say such as stupid thing in public, well, you really know where these girls’ hometown is.

Would have been better if an actual beauty had done this…

This is the result of having lived for twenty years.

Hmmm, they haven’t grown up yet, have they?

Sorry to break it to you, but oiran were the highest class of prostitute. This is just so disrespectful to the oiran lol. No matter how you look at these girls, they’re from the lowest class.

Damn….Japan is fucked

So she’s a mother who brought along her child, right?

I saw her on the street but I thought she was a hostess.


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princess_momo 29th-Jan-2013 12:00 am (UTC)
I just think it's stupid to show your bare shoulders in freezing cold weather. You look good, okay, but enjoy the cold you're going to catch.

/2 cents. No real opinion to have a discussion about.
nova_usagi 31st-Jan-2013 10:21 am (UTC)
The issue is that they`re dress like long-ago high priced prostitutes. "Courtesan" is not what an Oiran was. Oiran have the bows in the front so they can easily untie it for sex. Men of any class cough sleep with one so long as they had the money.
age_of_green 29th-Jan-2013 12:21 am (UTC)
20 year olds are going to dumb things in the name of fashion-I know because I am one. IDK why they'd accessorize and wear heavy make-up when the kimono's already very bright, but maybe that's a cultural thing.

Edited at 2013-01-29 12:30 am (UTC)
exdream1999 29th-Jan-2013 12:41 am (UTC)
I figure these girls know exactly what they're implying while wearing this, and if they want to take back this style, then more power to them.</p>

Still makes more sense then when my friend's wife, whose Japanese BTW, tried to tie their then two-year-old's obi in front of yukata.  She honestly thought no one would look at it weird and would just think it was cute.

slowtech 29th-Jan-2013 01:02 am (UTC)
where one way of dressing to imply that you are young and ~available~ is acceptable, but another isn't. ooooooookay w/e netizens

Before long they’ll be having their coming of age ceremonies in their underwear.
this dumbass way of thinking never fails to make my blood boil. ugh.
love_keiko 29th-Jan-2013 01:27 am (UTC)
rme. who the fuck cares? they're grown ass women, let them be. if they want to take back this style----let them!
tsu_ 29th-Jan-2013 01:29 am (UTC)
I might have a contrary opinion, but I do think it's awkward. It's like dressing for someone's wedding, a formal graduation or an event with a dresscode. It's held once in your life, and it's held with every person in your area coming of age together and I really think yea; Time Place Occasion is the way to go...

idk, maybe I'm just old-fashioned about it but oniran-style dressing is not a furisode. A furisode is not just the kimono itself but how you wear and carry it. (and that applies to any kind of dressing imho)
winds_daichi 29th-Jan-2013 02:18 am (UTC)
This +100000000
chibi_hime 29th-Jan-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
This goes beyond not having the common sense of dressing warmly in the winter. Dressing as an oiran for a formal event shows that they have no idea about their own country's history. Girls were usually forced into be coming prostitutes and becoming an oiran means you can be more selective in choosing your johns. There is nothing cute or fashionable about that.
winds_daichi 29th-Jan-2013 02:09 am (UTC)
I was thinking the same thing. Do they know where the style of this came from? It has like a really dark past to it. But, some people find it okay. I thought it was quite disrespectful. I understand that it's a once in a lifetime thing, but why not make it beautiful instead of just cute?
katokathy 29th-Jan-2013 01:46 am (UTC)
I think they look gorgeous (loving the style myself) and these people are just being anal. It's just fashion and they wanna look pretty on that day in their own interpretation. Pretty sure they know what oiran's are and what they do. But that doesn't mean they do or will be in that occupation. *eye roll*
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
nansuki 29th-Jan-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
Am I too old for a furisode? *sigh*

Even without the history of oiran, having the obi tied in the front looks messy & as if you're trying to hide something.
The bright colors, the hair & accessories looks really cool.
But they're only 20...why do these 2 look so old?
chibi_hime 29th-Jan-2013 02:39 am (UTC)
Are you married? I was 25 when I wore a furisode to my friend's wedding. I'm forgetting the rules right now, but I think there were darker colors for older women.

And makeup ages your skin especially some of the cheaper brands that they sell in Japan. So that would explain why they look older.
eevaleena 29th-Jan-2013 02:06 am (UTC)
I think they look cute ^^; But, I had to agree with some of the comments, that why did they look older than their age. Make-up?
winds_daichi 29th-Jan-2013 02:14 am (UTC)
IDK, I'm kinda with the people who found this a bit...unusual. I understand that you only turn 20 ONCE and you should have fun,but why not have fun and look simply beautiful, instead of worrying about fashion so much? Why not simple makeup with a beautiful kimono and have a ball with your friends? Ah!~ I really don't know what's going on, but their makeup looked caked on. They looked so much older than they were!~
citrine047 29th-Jan-2013 08:08 am (UTC)
sweetimpact1 29th-Jan-2013 02:58 am (UTC)
Not my cup of tea.
Once in a lifetime event, let them go with what they like
cherylena 29th-Jan-2013 03:14 am (UTC)
I can see how people find it odd. Going to the event that celebrates you being an adult by dressing up as a high ranking prostitute is really questionable. But they are gyaru. That could be her dream job for all you know.

The comment about the skin is very agreeable too..

I do hope that they will start a new oiran-inspired gyaru sub-group. It would be so amazing!
taylorniw 29th-Jan-2013 03:21 am (UTC)
Seems more like an issue of them not understanding the history of the style rather than going out with intent to offend. I know ignorance isn't an excuse, but it does seem like the reason here.
exdream1999 29th-Jan-2013 08:43 am (UTC)
Japanese youths know very well what an Oiran is, they are a huge part of Edo culture, especially in Ukiyo-e paintings and Kabuki plays.

Also, you have things like the moive/comic Sakuran, or even the comic/drama JIN that was a huge hit, that feature Oiran as main/prominent characters.

There's also my discussion about this topic with a high school Japanese teacher and some of the students after school about this.
johnnypenn 29th-Jan-2013 04:12 am (UTC)
I am just jealous all over. I love Kimonos and these styles are beautiful. I really want to wear one even though I am a Westerner and apparently not something to do unless one calls it cosplay. Whatever, I will one day. ;)
exdream1999 29th-Jan-2013 08:40 am (UTC)
You don't have to only wear a kimono, or a yukata, in a cosplay way if you're not Japanese. If there's a Japanese themed event going on near you that Japanese people would be wearing a kimono or yukata too, it's perfectly fine if you do to.

As long you know how to wear it properly, but even then, a lot of younger Japanese people go out with their kimono or yukata looking sloppy.
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