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Lantern slide, from a large-format album view
Private collection of Rob Oechsle
Here we have a group of very nice, sweet, young ladies who would be vilified and refused popular exposure in the west, but in Japan were a very hot item for postcards, album views, 3-D, and lantern-slides. Their images were everywhere. In all the respectable souvenir and postcard shops, their pictures could be snapped up by the handful. The more "visitors" they had, the more respect they received, culminating in parades and celebrations in their honor. However, most of them were not here by choice, and their very existence was a thorn in the side of every moralizing missionary that passed through Japan. Often mistakenly called "Geisha Girls" by misinformed westerners, these ladies-of-the-night were only "distant cousins" of the true Geisha who bristled at the thought of being confused with these less-than-refined "working girls".