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  • Japanese: 湯女 (yuna)

Yuna were bathhouse girls whose official job was bathing and massaging clients, but who served as unlicensed prostitutes outside the Yoshiwara from the early years of the Edo period until 1657. As early as 1614, texts such as the Keichô kenbunroku indicate that bathhouses could be found in nearly every ward (chô) of the city, where twenty or thirty girls were on hand to bathe clients, and entertain otherwise - some are known to have played shamisen.[1]

The yuna were officially banned by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1648, but this did not put an end to the phenomenon. It was only in 1657, due to pressure from the Yoshiwara in an effort to eliminate the competition, that the yuna disappeared. Two hundred bathhouses were closed and six hundred girls apprehended at that time.[2] Many came to work within the Yoshiwara as teahouse waitresses, called sancha.


  1. Amy Stanley, Selling Women: Prostitution, Markets, and the Household in Early Modern Japan, UC Press (2012), 60.
  2. Stanley, 60-61.