Jan. 11th, 2014

Takarazuka

Jan. 11th, 2014 11:18 pm
caithion: (Masaki)
I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date! XD

Yes, see, I got side-tracked by Takarazuka things, but that's perfect, actually, because my topic for yesterday from [livejournal.com profile] jailbaitjello was "Takarazuka." (And, yes, feel free to keep adding to the meme topics, because otherwise you'll be subjected to topics that I pick.)

Takarazuka means 'Treasure Hill,' and is the name of a town in Hyogo Prefecture that once wasn't known for much of anything except a lovely hot spring. However, it was rather remote, even from the cities of Kobe and Osaka. The owner of the railroad lines that led to Takarazuka decided he needed a relatively cheap attraction to lure people out. So, in 1914 he began a theatrical troupe composed entirely of girls. Their earliest performances were on an impermanent stage constructed over a pool in a bathing house. Kobayashi convinced the girls' families that they would get a nice year-long education in propriety and the things that would make them good wives and mothers, and of course they wouldn't remain as performers for more than a few years (thus meaning that Kobayashi wouldn't have to pay them much). Their motto became "Kiyoku, Tadashiku, Utsukushiku"--often translated as "Pure, Proper, and Beautiful," although I prefer the translation of "Modesty, Fairness, and Grace." I think the later captures more of what Kobayashi was trying to achieve.

These young maidens (many were 12-13 when they joined) performed folk tales and fairy tales for a couple of decades before the industry began to change and incorporate elements of Western revue shows from Europe in the 30s. It continued to evolve, and still remains today, nominally run by Kobayashi's grandson and their parent conglomerate. All of which grew from that small train company, Hankyu.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of this rather unique Japanese art form. And if they do more these days to draw in a younger crowd, and less attention is paid to preserving the performance folk arts that they once were renowned for keeping alive, well.... sometimes you have to change to keep going.

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