Show off your prettiest historical self at this Nara photo studio where you can dress like the Edo Period’s high-class courtesans!

Maybe you’ve visited Kyoto and spent the day dressed like a maiko, an apprentice geisha, but have you ever dressed as an Edo-era oiran, a.k.a. a high-class “woman of pleasure?” If you haven’t, don’t worry, because you can get your old-school sex appeal on at a specialty photography studio in Nara Prefecture.

▼ My, oh my, it’s a courtesan!


Seeking a sultry transformation, one of our Japanese reporters made the trip to the newly established “Yamato Sakura” photography studio in Yamatotakada, Nara. Although the studio is easily accessed by the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka line, it’s a little strange that it would be so far removed from the hustle and bustle of the huge tourist area of Nara City. Don’t they want that tourist business?!

Well of course they would like that business, but, apparently, Yamatotakada once had a lively red-light district, so this location just seemed so much more appropriate. Another consideration about the location was that the founders wanted to help revitalize the Chunanawa area of Nara Prefecture, which consists of Yamatotakada City, Kashihara City and the Yoshino district, so they set up shop right smack in the middle of it.

▼ You’d never expect the glamour that awaits inside.


Getting down to business, the shop offers five “plans” and a variety of optional services to choose from. Plans range from 8,500 yen (US$70) to 22,500 yen ($183), but all offer the basics of having your hair and makeup done, getting dressed in a kimono and having about 20 professional photos (and additional photos on your own camera) taken.

The more expensive plans let you wear the datehyougo mage, a hair piece that resembles the famous hairstyles of the oiran, decorated with kanzashi hair pieces. Other price differences result from the choices of printed/digitized photo options. You can get two 2L sized mounted photos, a data CD or a “jewel-like” photo album.

▼ They also have an English menu for their foreign customers.


▼ To start, you pick a kimono from an album with over 20 options.


If you’re too overwhelmed by the options, or just don’t know what will look good on you, the staff is very helpful. Regardless of your age or nationality, the staff is there to help you look your best.

▼ Which one will you wear?


The make-up and hairstyling is professionally done, as if the staff had made up real oiran back in the day. Our writer told us they were all delightful and clearly loved their work, making for an excellent experience.

▼ She got her hair done with the datehyougo mage hair piece.


With hair and makeup done, our reporter next put on her kimono. Going into the flashy and glittery photography studio, with folding screens and obi, kimono sashes, scattered on the floor, was a little nerve-wracking. But, the props and scene looked so real and the photographer, also the owner of the studio, was so capable, the whole process ended up being a pleasure.

▼ Finished product! Beautiful!


Our reporter said, “Of course, the photos were beautiful! But more than the kimono, the photos captured how good I was feeling.” Overall, she had a wonderful time dressing up as an oiran and recommends that anyone visiting Nara pay a visit to Yamato Sakura to get the oiran experience and some beautiful pictures! So when will you go?


Studio Information
Yamato Sakura
Address: 3-8 Isonominami-machi, Yamatotakada, Nara 635-0062
635-0062 奈良県大和高田市礒野南町3-8
Phone number: 0745-60-1779
Hours: 10:00~19:00, reservations strongly recommended, last appointment at 18:00 (Closed Sundays)

Reference: Yamato Sakura (English)
Images: RocketNews24
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