A hundred years of Japanese glamour – the Takarazuka Revue

Takarazuka Revue It’s the Takarazuka Revue’s one hundredth anniversary this year, so I absolutely had to go back to the little town in the mountains outside Osaka where it all began and see the anniversary production of their most famous show, The Rose of Versailles. It was a trip down memory lane for me – it’s several years since I was last there, and I was excited to be back.

Takarazuka

The view down the Flower Path towards the theatre complex

Seeing a show at the Takarazuka Revue is the most amazing experience and I definitely recommend you try it if you ever get the chance. The theatre is massive – it seats 2,000 and the stage is twice the size of the stage at the London Coliseum.

Takarazuka

The audience arriving for the 11 am show

The entrance to the theatre complex

The entrance to the theatre complex

There are four hundred actresses in total – about seventy of them appear in each show. And what shows they are! Singing, dancing, high energy extravaganzas with wonderful costumes that cost a fortune to make and look it too.

A Takarazuka costume on display

A Takarazuka costume on display

Did you notice I said actresses, not actors? That’s because the Takarazuka Revue is all-female. No, it’s not aimed at men; the vast majority of its audience are women, drawn by the romantic stories and the beauty of the star actresses who play men in the productions. You’ve heard of kabuki, in which men play women (like in Shakespeare’s day), haven’t you? Well, Takarazuka is the mirror image.

Takarazuka top stars

The stars of the Takarazuka Revue

The show I saw was The Rose of Versailles, which is set at the time of the French revolution, giving plenty of scope for spectacular dresses and dramatic fight scenes. There are many different versions, but the one I saw focused on Oscar, a woman brought up as a man (making for a complex love life), who leads her army battalion in battle but realises their role is to protect the ordinary citizens of France, not the extravagant court.

Poster for The Rose of Versailles

Poster for The Rose of Versailles

Takarazuka

The Paradise Hall before the show

The Rose of Versailles front cloth

The Rose of Versailles front cloth

After the show I had a nostalgic wander along the Flower Path that runs outside the theatre.

The statue of Takarazuka's founder, Ichizo Kobayashi

Statue of Takarazuka’s founder, Ichizo Kobayashi

I couldn’t resist snapping the alcove where Mai-chan’s body is found in my East-West fusion murder mystery The Cherry Blossom Murder which is set at Takarazuka.

The alcove where Mai-chan's body is found in The Cherry Blossom Murder

The alcove where Mai-chan’s body is found in The Cherry Blossom Murder

I was lucky to be there on such beautiful day, and at such a historic time. A memory to savour!

A view of the theatre complex from across the river

A view of the theatre complex from across the river

PS – if you want to know more about Takarazuka’s history, see my Takarazuka page.

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12 thoughts on “A hundred years of Japanese glamour – the Takarazuka Revue

  1. Reblogged this on Sequins and Cherry Blossom and commented:

    I originally wrote this post about the 100th anniversary of the Takarazuka Revue on my website, franpickering.com, but then I thought I’d share it here on Sequins and Cherry Blossom too. It comes from my recent trip to Japan when I went back to Takarazuka, which was the setting for The Cherry Blossom Murder, the first book in my Josie Clark in Japan mystery series.

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  2. I just had the pleasure of seeing the same show at this same place at an 11:00 showing two weeks ago–except that for me, it was my first time! I already love Rose of Versailles, so that made it all the better. I had some idea what to expect, but it went beyond my expectations as far as the glitz, stage effects, and dance numbers are concerned. Never before have I seen so much sparkle contained on one stage.

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  3. Pingback: Neo Magazine features The Cherry Blossom Murder | Fran Pickering

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