Little Yoshiwara, Second Life

Little Yoshiwara
Little Yoshiwara

I’ve been in an oriental frame of mind recently, hopping around regions with Japanese and Chinese flavours. I’ve been helped in this by a set of note cards put together by Sayu  白湯 (EmpressRoslyn Winslet), who is also one of the people involved in Little Yoshiwara on the mainland continent of Satori,  which Caitlyn and I jumped over to visit one lunch time recently.

Founded in 2007 by Xuemei Yiyuan, and landscaped collaborative by Xuemei and Sayu, Little Yoshiwara is a combination of public, free-form role-play and residential environment modelled after the final years of the Edo period in Japan, which were referred to as Bakumatsu (幕末, literally meaning “closing curtain”), between (roughly) 1853 and 1867. These were tumultuous times for Japan, encompassing both internal strife and external interventions on the part of America, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (including the joint bombardment of Shimonoseki in 1864).

Little Yoshiwara
Little Yoshiwara

Given this, one might expect Little Yoshiwara to be perhaps leaning toward the militaristic in look and feel, but this is not the case at all. Instead, visitors find themselves in a region-wide environment (which actually spills into neighbouring Ribush to the south and connects with two parcels in Chodron to the west), given over to a range of cultural aspects of traditional Japanese life. Through the town, one can find a wide range of classes covering geisha, samurai and shinto traditions, together with classes for those interested in learning about Kabuki (歌舞伎), the classical Japanese dance-drama.

What is particularly pleasing about Little Yoshiwara is the very natural layout: public buildings and classrooms intermingle with private residences; houses rubs shoulders with farm small holdings; shines sit at the sides of paths and tracks, while woodlands, gardens and water features bring everything together. This approach encourages visitors are encouraged to explore widely, increasing the opportunities to encounter local members of the various communities.

Little Yoshiwara
Little Yoshiwara

A subtle aspect to the region is the use of cushions. These can be found scattered across the public areas, but rather than for sitting, they are in fact a networked teleport system, allowing you to hop around various locations, including the Sky Dojo and theatre. To use them, simply right-click and sit, and you’ll be presented with a menu of destinations – although for the most part, I recommend letting shanks’ pony take the strain, it will bring you just as easily to the temples and shrine, as well as some of the more unusual parts of the region – such as the haunted forest.

There are perhaps one or two incongruous elements to Little Yoshiwara; a helicopter parked in the garden of an Edo period house caught me a little off-guard, and there is also a resident’s airport up in the sky (group rezzing of vehicles only). but while surprising at first glance, these speak to the all-embracing nature of Little Yoshiwara as a community; something further reflected in the modern dance / event area.

Little Yoshiwara
Little Yoshiwara

As noted towards the top of this piece, role-play does take place in the region, but visitors are neither required to join-in or to wear period costume; all that’s asked is a respect for private residences, and an openness to discovering and learning about old Japanese culture.

There are a number of activities to be found throughout the town, although some may require group membership (such as the archery, which I tried, but was unable to rez my arrows whilst attempting to shoot). Even so, with its many places to sit and relax, contemplate things spiritual, its many paths and locations, Little Yoshiwara makes for an enjoyable and engaging visit.

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2 thoughts on “Little Yoshiwara, Second Life

  1. As a regular visitor to Little Yoshiwara’s Inari-Jinja (Temple to the Kami Inari) and the shopping area, I agree that it is a superb build, especially for a Mainland setup. While you might feel a need to wear Japanese clothing, they are remarkably open and yes, you can rent a “home” space dressed in levis and a tee shirt (although you will eventually go Japanese since it’s more comfortable. Little Yoshiwara is a glance into the past with the rough edges (and the bakumatsu era had plenty of rough edges) neatly smoothed off, presenting a Japan before the advent of the Honda or any Western influence. It’s a genuinely beautiful place.


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