Explorers traveling on the eastern coast of Satori, the Japanese continent, might happen upon a tranquil Japanese community called Little Yoshiwara. Xuemei Yiyuan, the owner of the sim, commented, "I founded Little Yoshiwara in July of 2007. Starting out as a Geisha tea house and Shinto shrine on a 2048m block in the Milarepa sim, it has grown into an Edo Period (1603-1868 AD) Japanese town covering the entire region, as well as a substantial portion of the adjoining Ribush sim. The growth of the town would not have been possible without the invaluable contributions of past and present group members Shashe Neva, Faye Kawabata, and Soresu Romano." While this lovely and well-designed area was created for role-play, Xuemei told me that her primary aim is to have a place to celebrate traditional Japanese culture. "While those involved in the social groups do role-play on site," she said, "our general group members and visitors are not expected to role-play unless they wish to do so. In addition, visitors may dress any way they want, as long as it doesn't infringe upon the PG nature of the sim."
According to Xuemei, "Within the town are a number of social groups which not only role-play
those social roles, but learn about those social roles in classes held
at the 'group schools' in their home buildings or training areas. Each of the schools uses traditional ranking systems and conduct
regular classes and training in the chosen role. These schools include:
Yoshiwara Okiya group for Geisha; Yoshiwara Uji Dojo group for Samurai;
Yoshiwara Jingu Association group for Shinto Priests and Miko; the
Ichimura-za Kabuki Troupe group for those interested in performing
traditional Kabuki and Noh plays; the Doujoji Zen Temple group for
Buddhists; and the Yoshiwara Yokai group for those choosing a
super-natural (or non-human) role. The sim also welcomes anyone wishing to establish any new group schools
(e.g. Sumo, Ninja, Yakuza) provided they are prepared to put in the
time and energy needed to train their members and provide classes."
The town features sitting and picnic areas, a dance area with modern music, hot baths (onsen)
for bathing, and rooms for playing the game 'Go'. Visitors are welcome to enter role-play group areas, such as
the tea house (ochaya) run by the Geisha, the Samurai training areas, including the traditional archery range (kyuudo), the Zen Buddhist
Temple (Zendo), and any of the 8 large and small shrines belonging to
the Shinto group (these include our Grand Amaterasu Shrine in Ribush
region, and smaller shrines for Tsukuyomi, Susano-o, Uzume, Izanagi,
Inari, Hachiman, and Takemikazuchi). There are some home rentals on site (clearly marked and locked), and visitors are asked to respect the privacy of those areas. Otherwise, wandering throughout the town is welcomed. You might even stumble across a haunted forest and abandoned execution ground! The sim-wide teleport system is located in pillows scattered throughout the grounds.
Xuemei concluded by stating, "Little Yoshiwara welcomes, and is happy to provide the venues for, anyone wishing to hold events or seminars about any aspect
of Japanese culture, which will be facilitated and advertised by our
Admin team. The sim also has a gallery for art or photographic
exhibitions. We invite everyone in Second Life to freely attend our cultural events and classes, and enjoy the amenities of the town and its general relaxing ambience."
Every time I encounter a place like this gorgeously landscaped town which has been home to a number of active and vibrant groups since 2007, I am reminded again that the Mainland is a place of hidden beauty and tight-knit communities. Take a trip to visit Little Yoshiwara, and find out for yourself how true this is!