Ukiyo-e Prints


Port Townsend, Washington








Role: The shinzō Takigawa

Play: Kama-ga-fuchi Futatsu-domoe

Size (untrimmed): 10" x 7 1/8"

Censors: Hama & Magome 

Hama Yahei

(浜弥兵衛 or はまやへえ)

Magome Kageyu 

(馬込勘解由 or まごめかげゆ)

Date: 1849-53 

Signature: Kōchōrō Toyokuni ga

 署名: 香蝶楼豊国画
 しょめい: こうちょうろうとよくにが

Publisher: Hori Takichi









Censor Seals:

Hama & Magome







Above is a detail from this print which clearly shows the subtle, but elegant use of embossing .




新造 or 新艘



In Yoshiwara: The Nightless City by J. E. De Becker points out that shinzō (新造) literally means 'newly constructed' (or 'made'). When a kamuro, the young attendant to a courtesan, "...had grown up to thirteen or fourteen they were made Shinzō..." (1) This only happened with the approval of the courtesan. About ten days before her 'promotion' the kamuro receives ohaguro from seven friends of her courtesan. That is the first time the young woman/girl is allowed to blacken her teeth. On the day of the installation soba noodles were served to all members of the brothel and to those establishments which had friendly relations with that house. A table of unpainted wood 9' to 18' in length loaded with vessels holding steamed food would be set out in front of the brothel. Inside a similarly unpainted table, but smaller, would be set up in the courtesans quarters arrayed with fabrics, tobacco pouches, fans, towels, etc., to be handed out as gifts to friendly patrons. Another long table offering steamed dishes would be placed before an associated tea-house where the patrons had been conscripted to help pay for the shinzō's ceremonies and other expenses. (2) "On this day the interior decorations of the brothel were so magnificent and splendid that according to ancient writers the spectacle defies the power of language to adequately portray them. (3)


The new shinzō would be paraded up and down the Nakanochō for a week, each day dressed in different finery and accompanied by her courtesan and other attendants. If, on the other hand, a girl was made a shinzō although she had not been trained in the Yoshiwara and did not have a sponsoring courtesan she was referred to as a "...'tsuki-dashi (one who is pushed out to the front)..." Her rank as a courtesan trainee was dependent on her grace and beauty and hence the amount of expensive gifts and bedding she was given. (4) Gifts of small sake cups, sakazuki, decorated with the new shinzo's name and crest would be given out to all of the friendly businesses associated to her house. (5)


Cecilia Segawa Seigle in her book on the Yoshiwara tells us that the shinzō are the "Lowest-ranking prostitutes who were also attendants of high-ranking courtesans." (6)


1. Yoshiwara: The Nightless City, by J. E. De Becker, Frederick Publications, 1960, p. 55.

2. Ibid., pp. 55-6.

3. Ibid., p. 56.

4. Ibid., p. 57.

5. Ibid.

6. Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan, by Cecilia Segawa Seigle, University of Hawaii Press, 1993, p. 276.