Article from Nodo50.org:
In medieval Japan, sexual entertainers and their customers enjoyed great freedoms until a growing orthodoxy stifled their trade, Janet Goodwin tells a UCLA audience. An early Heian period painting shows three women in a boat rowing alongside a larger boat carrying male passengers, some dressed richly and some ascetically—aristocrats and monks. The kimono-clad women were asobi, or sexual entertainers, singing their siren song to lure the aristocrats to some temporary pleasure shack.
With the monks in the rear . . . the large boat was probably on its return from some chartered pilgrimage to a sacred site. The asobi knew well the sea lanes for pilgrims who were ready to unburden themselves of their journey’s abstinence. . . weaker pilgrims might have looked for the asobi even on the way to sacred sites.