Takarazuka is an unassuming city in the Kansai district of Japan, close to Osaka. It has a population of about 220,000 people. It is one of those cities that is a nice place to live in and many people call it home. It does have one thing that sets apart from other nondescript cities in Japan. That is the Takarazuka Revue.
The Takarazuka Revue is an all-female musical theatre troupe. It was created in 1914 and it is still very successful, 103 years later.
The troupe is divided into five smaller troupes, Flower, Star, Moon, Snow and Cosmos. Each troupe is unique and each has their own fanatical fans who follow them all over the country as they perform in certain cities.
This picture is of a packet of Japanese sweets which were made for a Takarazuka performance in Fukuoka. This is from the Moon troupe.
Most of the people who watch Takarazuka performances are women. It is said that the audience is more than 90% women and as I said, the word fanatical doesn't even begin to describe it.
British football fans might follow their club teams all over Europe and the world but their passion and commitment pales in comparison to some of the fan clubs for the Takarazuka Revue.
I was talking to a fan the other day and she said that she would get up early on her day off to catch the first train to stand outside of the theatre for a few hours so you she could get a glimpse of her favourite star or stars.... even in the winter. Now that is commitment.
Because the Takarazuka Revue is an all-female troupe the performers are also divided into performers who take the female roles and performers who take the male roles. The performers who take the male roles are the most popular and this got me thinking and as it turned out it seems to be a popular topic amongst the academic world as well about why the male role performers are the most popular?
An interesting question right?
From what I can see there are probably a few reasons:
1. I'm not going to sugarcoat this, there are lesbian themes in Takarazuka performances and the women may be attracted to that.
2. They like the fact that the woman is playing the male role and that the character is showing an attitude that they want to emulate.
3. They see the male role as someone who would make a good boyfriend or husband. Maybe they are not attached or they are not getting the kind of attention they want from their partner so they seek it at the theatre.
4. You didn't think I was going to finish a blog post without mentioning introversion, did you? It could be that the woman are just shy. They are comfortable around their close friends but when they get around males they find it difficult to relate to them so they get that 'male friendship' from their favourite performers.
Whatever the reason for the love of the male role performers, what we do know is that the passionate fanaticism of the fans is one of the reasons that make Takarazuka so fascinating for people in Japan and abroad.
It just goes to show that if you have a passion in life, I'm sure that you can find through that passion whatever it is you are looking for and who knows, some of those shy women may eventually get what they want and that is fantastic in my book.