Recreational Architecture

Two geisha

Kyoto urbanites found numerous ways in which to spend their leisure time. The architectural space of entertainment was often separated from the public sphere, just as certain buildings within aristocratic residences had their special functions. The Katsura Detached Palace, a country villa located in southwest Kyoto, was one recreational getaway. It was constructed in the Sukiya-style and its design borrowed many ideas from the architecture of the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony (chanoyu) was one of the most important upper-class amusements in the late Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo periods. The humble tea cottage, with its coarsely finished walls, open ceilings, and surrounding garden, and conjured up an atmosphere of rustic simplicity. The tiny Taian teahouse, built by the teamaster Sen no Rikyu for General Hideyoshi presented new challenges to visitor with its illusions of spatial depth. But tea, of course, was not the only source of entertainment and artistic inspiration during and after the Muromachi period. Another was the No drama, which like tea, had risen out of humble traditions in the Nara and Heian periods to become a complex and esoteric art.

Not all forms of entertainment of the early modern period were as erudite as the No and tea ceremony. No less central to the popular imagination were the courtesans of the pleasure quarters of the great cities. Abounding in brothels, theaters, teahouses, public baths, and sundry other places of diversion assignation, these quarters were the famous "floating worlds" of Tokugawa fact and legend. Houses in the pleasure quarters, like the Sumiya in Kyoto's Shimabara, could be quite sumptuous and were appointed in a particularly innovative variety of the Sukiya style.

* Pleasure Quarters

* No Stage

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