Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Girl power at this groundbreaking theater.
Sparkles, music and beautiful women dressed as good-looking men. Have we got your attention? Looks like you should check out the increasingly popular world of Takarazuka Revue.
Lots of people come to Japan wanting to see Kabuki or Noh, but these can often seem outdated or completely inaccessible to a foreign audience. Takarazuka, on the other hand, has all-female productions based on Shakespeare, the French revolution and love affairs with the spectre of death. Much closer to home, right? The lavish costumes, dotted around the hallways of the theatre, are worth the visit themselves.
With productions reminiscent of those found on the West End and Broadway, fans of musicals and theatre will find it hard to resist the allure of visiting the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre in Tokyo. But for all its glamour, Takarazuka Revue has humble beginnings in Hyogo prefecture.
Founded by the president of Hankyu Railways in 1913, the Revue was launched as a way to attract tourists to the town of Takarazuka – the last stop on the Hankyu line from Osaka. After it’s groundbreakingly popular production of the famous shoujo manga, Rose of Versaille, things really took off. Today the company owns two theaters, the Grand Theater in Takarazuka and the Tokyo theater, performing for millions of people every year.
The audience at the Takarazuka Revue are majority women, drawn to the empowering concept of females in male roles, in contrast to the traditional model of Kabuki and Noh. Becoming a member of the Revue is a famously rigorous process, involving years of strict training and daily disciplinary exercises. In spite of this, thousands of girls continue to audition for one of the troupe’s coveted contracts.
Even now, tickets are hard to come by and those wishing to see a production should take the time to book well in advance (six months to a year, in some cases) in order to experience some of the finest theatre in Japan.
So if a trip to the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre will involve music, dance and a healthy dose of female empowerment, what else is on offer? Takarazuka is also made up of five different troupes and in the Japanese love a good fanclub so expect audiences to be packed with ardent Takarazuka enthusiasts. The atmosphere is amazing. After a performance there is usually an all-singing, all-dancing ‘Revue’ that gets the whole crowd clapping, waving glowsticks and belting out their favourite tunes.