The Hell Courtesan


The Enlightenment of Jigoku-dayu (1890) from the series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Jigoku-dayu of Takasu was a courtesan adopted by the Zen Priest Ikkyu (1394–1481), who converted her to a religious life and gave her a literary education. She is seated in meditation with a ghostly vision of a procession of the skeletons of a courtesan and her entourage, thus showing her the impermanence of life.

Jigoku-dayu is portrayed here as a high-ranking courtesan. Her white robe is embossed with fine key patterns and her outer robe is decorated with the Goddess of Mercy on the front and at the back with scenes of hell. Her name consists of Jigoku (hell), a term for the lowest form of unlicensed prostitute and dayu (respect) for a courtesan of the highest rank. (via)

See also Junko Mizuno‘s contemporary drawings of Jigoku-dayu.


Jigoku-dayu (date?) by Kawanabe Kyosai.


Jigoku-dayu (another version) by Kawanabe Kyosai.


Jigoku-dayu (1874) from Kyosai’s Drawings for Pleasure by Kawanabe Kyosai.


Enma, the King of Hell and a Courtesan (date?) by Kawanabe Kyosai.

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