Recently one big theatrical company in Japan had 100th anniversary.
The company is still popular and there are many fans over three generations coming together to see the stage. Many outstanding actresses are from this company.
To play in that company, you have to graduate the special school. The school is Tkarazuka Music School.
The school has been founded by Ichizo Kobayashi, who was a successful businessman and also politician.
He devoted his life to city development by railway industry. He believed develpment of local area are created by passengers, and he established business in variety of fields based on this idea, including housing, transportation, real estate and also department stores.
One day, he saw an opera stage in Tokyo. Most of the audience were laughing-the overaction and the singing were not familiar for eveyone yet, but there were a group of people watching the stage eagerly. Kobayashi approached and asked them if they liked the stage. They started critisizing about the singers and Kobayashi felt assured about the future of opera and the entertaining stage.
There was no particular industry in Takrazuka but only some onsen(hot spring)there. He wanted people visit Takarazuka by Hankyu railway. He founded girls' music school and the company in 1913. At the school, the students had to learn singing, musical instruments, and dance both Japanese and Westnern. The students had to be so well disciplined and had to have elegant and nice behavier.
This princeple still lives- Takarazuka music school is still one of the most competitive school. Only one person out of 22 people can pass. Every spring, TV news shows the new students who passed the difficult entrance exam. The school is said to be even more strict than army!
Here is the short movie showing the schools life of Takarazuka Music School:
For two years, grils study to be a professional stage actress. Actress? Actually, only girls can enter and become the company member. After graduating from the school, they are called `Takaraziennes' and appear as a member of Takarazuka theatrical company.
Once there was a small slump period of the company, but in 1974, the play called `The Rose of Versailles`made a big hit and audience increased again.
All the play by the company, girls play all the roles. Male part also is done by girls. Actually many outstanding players who played male part in Takarazuka became famous actresses after they left Takarazuka. Students from Takarazuka are noted for the ability as actresses with strict basic training they had.
They have very strong rules in the school, and the students work so hard to be on the stage as a Takarazienne. The first thing the newly entered students do in spring to visit Ichizo Kobayashi's grave. His spirit lives since he founded Takarazuka Music School and the theatrical company.
Here you can see more about Ichizo Kobayashi:
I did not have chance to see the stage of Takarazuka but there are many people who really enjoy Takarazuka stage. Their stage is radiant and have this charm for people to forget the real life. You may think their stage is too melodramatic, but their beautiful costumes and the singing voice make many people happy. The stories they play might be too girlish taste and full of fantacy but it is true, Takarazuka are loved by many enthusiastic fans. They say `We sing, we dance and the dream begins'.
One of my good friend had a really unhappy incident recently. She is an enthusiastic fan of Takarazuka company. Her sadness still remains and cannot be recovered completely yet, but she said, `Does the day I can enjoy Takrazuka stage again ever come?' I said `Of course the day will come!'.
Takarazuka surely give dreams and blissful moment to many people. This unique theatrical company will keep popularity. I think, their own style keeps giving dream to many people. Kobayashi Ichizo's spirit still lives.
Kiyoku, Tadashiku, Utsukusiku(Keep honesty, do the right thing and be elegant) is the spirit they keep for this one hundred years of time. This motto might be what we like to see but hard to find in this world.
Here is the stage of Takarazuka 100th anniversary:
I hope you enjoy!