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A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Friday 18 March 2016

Takarazuka and Kabuki: the theatre in Japan

I am so spoiled by Osaka University, guys. We were able to go on a study trip to both Kabuki and the Takarazuka Revue for free!

They were both so different, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the two.

What is Takarazuka Revue?

The Takurazuka Revue is an all female performing troupe- they have been performing since 1924 so while not exactly new, they are much more modern than Kabuki.
The style is like a mixture of the pantomime and a west end musical, it was so fantastic! I'd definitely recommend it. The cheapest tickets were only a few thousand yen, although the front row tickets were obviously a lot more.
For Takarazuka Revue, we went to see a performance called 'Shakespeare: The Sky filled with eternal words' which was a fictional story about Shakespeare's life, based on Romeo and Juliet. Everyone kept asking me what I thought of it, being British, hehe. I loved it so much, I think I was close to tears at one point. They even had Queen Elizabeth the first in it! The second half was a dazzling music and dancing revue, called 'Hot Eyes'. It was absolutely stunning.

Read more about them on the Takarazuka Revue website.

Of course I couldn't take any pictures of the actual performance, but here are a few pictures of the (super grand and intimidating) Takarazuka theatre.

Tezuka Museum

Side note: While you're in Takarazuka, it's worth checking out the Osamu Tezuka Museum. Tezuka is the manga artist who created Astro Boy and is known as 'The God Of Manga' due to how influential he was. The museum is aimed at Kids so there are a lot of pictures and it's pretty fun. There's also a cafe with loads of his works that you can read, translated into lots of different languages. Entrance was 700 yen. 

What is Kabuki?

The other type of Japanese theatre I went to see was Kabuki. Kabuki is a much older art than Takarazuka, and originated in the Edo Period, where it became popular among the merchant class (compared to Noh theatre which was for the Samurai class). In contrast to Takarazuka Revue, the cast of a Kabuki play is all male. (Women were banned as some Kabuki became a front for prostitution. This didn't help much, because the young male stars were then in demand.) We went to the Shochikuza theatre in Osaka, which is really close to Ebisubashi. We were again kindly taken by Osaka University, and we went to see a whole performance, which consisted of three parts, each around an hour long. Kabuki is slightly notorious for being slightly... dull, and certainly the Japanese was a lot slower and harder to understand than Takarazuka. Our Sensei even said that a lot of people fall asleep during it! I thought it was really cool, and did my best to follow along. It's definitely necessary to research the plot beforehand though! Of the three acts. one was a performance aclled 'Narukami', one was a dance, and one was based on a Rakugo story. 

I'd recommend Kabuki too, but if you can't understand any Japanese then it might be a bit difficult. I've heard that you can book tickets for only one act though, so that might be worth a try. 

Another thing to note is that sometimes, at the back of the performance, people will shout out things at random intervals, They're paid to do that, so don't start shouting too, or you'll disturb the performance. 

Thanks for reading!
-Amy xoxo

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