Courtesans were in demand in Japan and they needed help, or attendants, to see to their every needs. Kamuro were those such attendants. The Kamuro were the young girls who looked out for and looked after the courtesans of the Yoshiwara.
Kamuro would run errands for the courtesans, no matter what they needed. They would be between the age of 5 and 10, and would help the courtesans with their clothing, make-up or hair, run their errands for them, do deliveries, buy their food and even cook for them if need be.
Kamuro were not shielded from the kind of work that courtesans did, entertaining and pleasuring men. Being a courtesan was not looked down upon, it was a way of life and it was work. Although Kamuros were innocent children, they would sometimes be ‘used’ by both the men and the courtesans, not in a sexual way but in an information way. Certain men wanted certain courtesans, and the Kamuro may have known the way to her heart! Or her stockings!
The image of courtesans and the Kamuro have been well captured in shunga art, with the Kamuro in attendance, perhaps helping the courtesan with her skirt, or her corset, or her chores.