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A Visit in the Great Edo  

A close-up on Edo castle / Cultural enlightenment' spots   

The Unknown World of Ladies Quarter in the Edo castle

Saruwaka Kyōgen: "The Inner Palace of Chiyoda" (Chiyoda no Ōoku Saruwaka Kyōgen)
Painted by Yōshū Chikanobu 1895 (Meiji 28)

The Honmaru in the Edo Castle consists of three different parts: the part facing the front (omote) in which Tokugawa Shogun administers affairs of state, the central part (nakaoku) in which Tokugawa Shogun used as his space for his everyday life, and the part facing the rear (Ōoku) in which Tokugawa Shogun and his wife(s), her children, and female servants used as their own living spaces.
Although it is widely believed that it was only used by women, there were some men who took part in the life of the ladies quarter called "Ōoku". There was a space called "Ohiroshiki" for some officials, and those officials played a part in the lives of women who resided in the ladies quarter. Their role varied in many different kinds from clerical work to receiving guests. They even cooked foods for the wife of Tokugawa Shogun.

Sugoroku for Promotion of the Servents of the Inner Palace (Oku-bōkō Shusse Sugoroku)
Painted by Utagawa Toyokuni III 1844 (Kōka 1)
Illustration of the Inner Palace in the Kanei period (Kaneido Ezu Ōoku) [Important cultural property related to the construction of Edo Castle]
Duplicate of the original by Kōra Buzen

This being said, it cannot be denied that the main occupants of the ladies quarter were women. A woman who sat in the top position was called "jōrō", while they were classified into more classes that had a clearer separation depending on their occupation when they served the shogun. A woman in the top position was selected among women of noble families in Kyoto and she taught many things including how to arrange flowers and the tea ceremony, arranging everything in the ladies quarter in order.

* To view more explanation, please click the each image.