Oiran (花魁) was a specific category of high ranking courtesan in Japanese history. Divided into a number of ranks within this category, oiran were considered – both in social terms and in the entertainment they provided – to be above common prostitutes, known as yūjo . Though oiran by definition also engaged in prostitution, they were distinguished by their skills in the traditional arts, with the higher-ranking oiran having a degree of choice in which customers they took, and the highest-ranking oiran, known as tayū, not engaging in sex work at all. The term "oiran" originated in Yoshiwara, the red light district of Edo in the 1750s, and is applied to all ranks of high level courtesans in historical Japan.
Oiran es el vocablo japonés utilizado para referirse a una cortesana de alto rango en Japón. La palabra "oiran" consta de dos kanji, 花 que significa "flor", y 魁 cuyo significado es "líder" o "primera". Los aspectos culturales de la tradición de las oiran aún se preservan en la actualidad.