The Ōgi-ya was once
considered one of the finest brothels in the Yoshiwara district of Edo.
Known particularly for the skills and beauty of the nine women who carried
the name Hanaōgi the Ōgi-ya was allotted certain privileges: the phoenix
pattern on clothing and the fan crest were traditionally restricted to their
use. (Cf. Kunisada's World, by Sebastian Izzard, Japan Society, Inc.,
1993, cat. #23, p. 77.)
However, like all
great things, decline was inevitable. The name Ōgi-ya was sold to a
low-grade house. "The Ōgiya, which had been known for beautiful women and
elegant way because of the second-generation proprietor Bokuga's refined
taste, declined rapidly in the first decades of the nineteenth century.
Bokuga's grandson Bunga (fourth-generation Ōgiya) drove the family fortune
to the ground and had to sell everything, including his daughter as a
low-class prostitute. The Edo magistrates heard about it and summoned
Yoshiwara administrators: "Ōgiya is a flower of Edo; you must all help to
sustain its business." The revival did not last, however." (Cf.
Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan, by Cecilia Segawa Seigle,
University of Hawaii Press, 1993, pp. 206-7.)