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Takarazuka Revue (circa 1956)
(first posted April 2012)

While browsing through what is left of my father's library, I found a souvenir program titled Nippon Ballet: Takarazuka Kabuki. My jaw dropped when I realized what it was. The text is in three languages: English, French, and Italian. The pamphlet isn't in great condition. It had previously been salvaged(?) and taped together after having been ripped into quarters.

There is a certain irony created by female performers doing kabuki, a theatre they were originally a part of but is now only acted by males who also perform women on stage. The Takarazuka doing kabuki is a sort of snatching back of the theatre. Also, their performance of the "ideal Japanese woman" put forth by kabuki carries with it an unintentional element of parody, because the "ideal" woman is an actual living and breathing female and society's conservative prescriptions are a culturally fed, dominant group-serving veneer.

The date of this program is probably 1956. I base this on the contents of Ichizō Kobayashi's message in the program. He writes, "Then, about fifty years ago [Ed., my emphasis] I saw for the first time a full scale performance by foreign artists of a western [sic] opera…. At that time I was in charge of what was at the time a small suburban tramcar line…."

Kobayashi switched from banking to working for a railway in 1907, and he died on January 25, 1957. Since there is no reference to his passing in the program, I conclude that the publication date must have been the previous year. The show could have been staged in 1956 or 1957 (the program could have once had a memorial insert).

*Text and images reproduced under "fair use" provision of U.S. copyright law, Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107, for nonprofit educational purposes.
cover cover
Nippon Ballet
TAKARAZUKA KABUKI
Ichizo Kobayashi
personal message
from Ichizō Kobayashi
town of Takarazuka
Takarazuka—A unique town
Fuji Musume
Fuji Musume dance
(trans. Wisteria Girl)
Fuji Musume close-up
close-up
Lion Dance
Kagami Jishi dance
(trans. [Mirrored] Lion)
Kagami Jishi close-up
close-up
Spring Dance
scene from "Spring Dance"
Spring Dance close-up
close-up
Onna Kurumabiki
scene from
"Onna Kurumabiki"
close-up
close-up
Kabuki
Kabuki /
The Folk Dances of Japan /
East Meets West
panel
panel
close-up
close-up
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panel
close-up
close-up
panel
panel
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close-up
facing page of "Kabuki"
panel
panel
close-up
close-up
panel
panel
close-up
close-up
panel
panel
close-up
close-up
panel
panel
close-up
close-up
close-up
close-up
panel
panel
close-up
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panel
panel
close-up
close-up
Why Takarazuka?
Why Takarazuka?
close-up
close-up
Why Takarazuka? close-up
close-up
back cover
back cover
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close-up