[4] "Bath Women" / The "Salon Upstairs"…

湯女の活躍と二階風呂サロン

The popularity of the culture of communal bathing was due mostly to the existence of the YUNA, or “Bath Women.” As one may assume the “Bath Women paid special attention to those male customers willing to pay the extra fee for their extra special service… According to the OCHIBOSHU (1752), a compilation of essays published daily at the time, many of the communal bath Sentou establishments closed their doors to normal bathers at 4PM, allowing entry only those special customers mentioned above. During normal business hours, “YUNA” dressed in traditional cotton garb, scrubbed bathers, but in the evening hours they changed into more seductive clothing. While the women changed their clothes, Sentou operators cleaned the DATSUIBA, converting the space into a stage in which the women in waiting played melodies on their Shamisen… Consequently, decisive clients made their way to the “Salon upstairs” with their Shamisen player of choice. Due to the fact that Sentou in the Yamanote area (the hilly and affluent area) employing “YUNA” were considerably successful, more and more operators added on second floors to their structures until almost all Sentou in that district offered “YUNA” services in their “Upstairs Salons.” The BAKUFU SHOGUNATE decreed that the existence of “YUNA” corrupted public morals, and passed a law limiting the number of “YUNA” to three per Sentou establishment. However, this decree was completely ignored, resulting in the BAKUFU completely outlawing the “YUNA” trade in 1841. Those “YUNA” who had lost their jobs in the Sentou were forced to move to the “YOSHIWARA” district where their work was officially sanctioned and controlled. Even though the “YUNA” disappeared, regular bathers continued to patronize the Sentou, helping to maintain their status as places of mutual communication. During the boom in the “YUNA” business and even after they were outlawed, most Sentou were converted into “Two Story Bathhouses” between the years of 1830 to 1844. This type of Sentou was only found in the Yamanote area of Edo, becoming one of the more popular places for mutual communication in the district. However, the “Two Story” type of Sentou eventually disappeared completely by around the 18th year (1885) of the Meiji Era.

混浴の風を助長させたものは、湯女の活躍です。湯女は、言うまでもなく遊女の類で、『落穂集』(1752)などによると、湯屋は午後4時になると一般客を断わり、昼間に客の垢流しをしていた湯女が身じたくを整え、そのあいだ湯屋は脱衣場を座敷に変えて、三味線片手に遊客を待ちました。つまり、客は湯女と2階へ上がることが出来るシステムになっていたというわけです。この湯女風呂は次第に繁盛し、2階を増築するところも多くなり、やがて最初から2階建ての銭湯が林立するようになりました。これを受けて幕府は、この湯女が風紀を乱すとして「一湯につき湯女は3人まで」と制限しましたが、なかなか励行されず、やがて一大決起して、天保の改革(1841)の際に湯女風呂を取り潰し、仕事にあぶれた湯女を吉原の遊廓に強制移動させました。
 その後、湯女のいた湯屋の2階は町のサロンとして転用され、「二階風呂」と呼ばれて、天保時代(1830~1844)に隆盛を極めました。この二階風呂は山の手にある湯屋にしかなく、下町にはなかったといいます。しかし、この二階も男性のみ利用可能で女性用はありませんでした。そんな二階風呂も、明治18年(1885)頃には姿を消しました。