Osen helped her father out in his store from the time she was 12 or 13. Around the time she was 18, she caught the attention of the painter of beauties, Suzuki Harunobu, who fell for her at first sight and painted her portraiture on a nishikie. 10 or so different nishikie depictions of Osen made their way around Edo which provided her with her break. Every day brought more customers to see Osen, who would often sit and drink so much tea that they would make themselves ill. Of course, they could only look – no touching was allowed.
This led to an increase in the number of stores with kanban musume, which led to a sharp increase in the price of tea. Before this time, one cup would cost 1 sen, yet with the appearance of kanban musume, at its very peak the cost of a cup of tea rose from 50 mon to 1 shu. At the teahouse known as `Nijikken` found in Asakusa, they brought together a number of different beauties, yet it was said that `one smile will cost you 100 mon`. Their sales level was different to other stores, so they had to search far and wide in order to find stylish girls.
A ranking of young, amateur beauties known as the `Musume Hyōbanki` was published seasonally, such was the attraction of the young women of the city. Osen was ranked as a `Daikyoku Jyō Jyō Kichi`, which was the highest level of ranking available.
The fashion of the tea house women changed as well. Up until this time, women wore the `maedare`, which was meant to prevent a kimono from becoming dirtied. This underwent some major improvements. In summer, it incorporated crepe and flax. In winter, it was a double-layered jacket and a wrinkle finish. On dark blue white lacing would be used, and after the lacing met at the back it might continue down to the bottom of the cloth. Eventually the price for a maedare would outdo that for a kimono. One would not buy it for oneself, but would receive it from a regular customer. Many customers would pay attention to see how the individuality of the girl could be brought to fruition through the use of the maedare.
Kanban musume usually reached their peak from between the ages of 13 to 18, and retired after they turned 20. These girls so captured the imagination of Edo that the Bakufu issued a decree banning their employment “Kanban musume are limited to those women under the age of 13 and over the age of 40”, hence women in the prime of their youth were no longer allowed to appear in such roles.(57-58)
Miya Daiku - The almost timeless grace and beauty of temples and shrines that we see today allows us to gaze upon the type of work done by laborers both before and during the Edo era. If the shrine or temple has never suffered fire damage, we can see the names of those who worked on the site on the decorations and surfaces of the building.
This is an indication of how venerated the job of `shrine carpenter` (miya daiku) was. It wasn`t something that just anybody could do. At construction sites, an audition would be held among the carpenters to measure how good their skills were – “Can he use a wood plane well?”, “Is he skilled in using a small axe?”. If a carpenter wasn`t particularly talented, then he wouldn`t be employed. By the process of elimination, an elite group of builders could be assembled.
Shrine carpenters were known as `kiku` (規矩) and `kiwari` (木割). These carpenters needed special skills that other carpenters didn`t possess. The `kiku` possessed the skill of judging which lumber to use for construction by making measurements with a `compass divider` and other devices, after which he would mark the lumber with black ink. The `kiwari` had the ability to judge with his eyes the answers to questions such as `what part of the tree will be used for construction of the building?`, `what measurements will be used to construct the building?` and `what angle should the roof and beams be set at so that they support one another?`.
When it came to examining the construction site and the kind of building that would be created, a shrine carpenter could tell in an instant how much lumber would be required to complete the job. If he knew the size of the surface area and the height that the building would be constructed to, he would neither use one log too many nor would he have one log too few. All of his calculations would be done just by looking at the site.
At the beginning of the Meiji era, the technical skills of the `kiku` and `kiwari` enabled the construction of western style buildings based purely on visualization (i.e, paintings and drawings).
Various types of instruments were used at the construction site. The `bunmawashi` (規), an instrument that enabled the carpenter to draw circles in a similar manner to a `compass divider`, was made from bamboo. There were also `compasses` (spelt using the characters 根発子) which were made out of metal. This particular device was introduced at the beginning of the Edo era from Nagasaki. The `mizuhakari` (準) was a spirit level that measured horizontal angles. The carpenter`s square formed a square root by lining up the front scale exactly with the rear scale. This type of technique was called the `masugumi` (斗組), and enabled the carpenter to calculate the numbers necessary to combine timber to form a box-shape.
`Sumitsubo` (墨斗), the application of black ink to a piece of thread, was a particular device used by Japanese carpenters to draw a straight line on timber. Carpenters then intersected the `sumitsubo` line with carvings made using an axe. The particular skill of a carpenter could be judged just by looking at the `sumitsubo`.
Shrine carpenters were divided up into different schools, and their way of building things and traditions were all different. The fact that the Ise Shrine `Shikinen Sengū` (式年遷宮 the rebuilding of the shrine) is carried out once every twenty years by a particular school is testimony to the traditions that each school possesses.
The wooden architectural skills of the Japanese are world-renowned. The `golden temple` (金堂) at Hōryūji (法隆寺) is the world`s oldest wooden building, while the `Great Buddha Hall` (大仏殿) of Tōdaiji is the world`s largest wooden building.(92-94)