Takarazuka: Passionate, Yet Non-Sexual

I love this poster for Takarazuka’s Flower Troupe’s “The Last Tycoon”. It is set in the 1930s! It features two people in some kind of intimate relationship, it is clear that one is a very femme woman and the other is on the female-presenting-as-male spectrum, yet officially this is non-sexual and non-lesbian-romantic – which makes it not unlike my fantasy of an ephemeral evening.

So, I have written posts about a) the Takarazuka Revue and b) passionate aces in fiction. I have been leading up to something:

If I cannot get passionate aces in my fiction, I can settle for non-sexual displays of passion – and this is where Takarazuka comes in.

Takarazuka makes a point about *not* being about sexuality, and from a certain angle, not even being about romance, yet being passionate most certainly is the point.

Takarazuka performers are required to be unmarried and not involved in any sexual/romantic relationships while they are working for Takarazuka. I do not know how strictly this rule is enforced, and there probably is somebody discreetly bending/breaking it. When I discuss this with fellow Americans, many assume that the performers must be involved in lots of lesbian activities/relationships (which must be true to some extent because, before we even get to the fact that theses are female performers who regularly act out romantic love with other female performers, when you have hundreds of women, quite a few of them are going to be pan/lesbian/bi based on sheer statistical chance). However, the Takarazuka Revue claims that this is not at all what it is about. And on top of that, being a Takarazuka performer requires a ton of time of energy, so I think that even if they were allowed to openly pursue sexual/romantic relationships, many would not because they need to pour so much of themselves into their work.

And pouring yourself into performing in the Takarazuka Revue because you love singing and dancing is a passionate act in itself.

So, we have here a) people doing something (singing and dancing and acting) with great passion b) people professing their passionate feelings for each other and sometimes other things (for example, singing passionately about how beautiful the flowers are) and c) none of it is intended to be sexual (unless it is required by the story) and d) when they declare romantic love, they do not *really* mean it romantically, because they are all women and not presenting as lesbians/queers.

To me, this feels like a burst non-sexual passion. It validates passion as I experience it.

That is not to say that Takarazuka is ace/aro-friendly. For example, the structure of the shows means that the stories often center around a heteronormative romantic relationship (even if the ‘heteronormative’ part is being subverted by the lack of male performers), and what they say often affirms heteronormativity (even if it is being subverted, again, by the lack of male performers).

Perhaps that is the true source of the appeal. In Takarazuka, the words say one thing (HETERONORMATIVY), yet the physical reality is saying something else (women expressing their SUPREME love for each other – and flowers too of course). This offers lots of room for interpretation, and everyone can find the interpretation they needs. Cis het women can get their fantasy ‘men’ (Takarazuka fans often claim that the Takarazuka’s otokoyaku are more appealing than men in real life), pan/lesbian/bi women can watch a woman dressed as a man have a passionate romance with a very femme woman, genderqueer people can watch people who are messing with the gender binary, and I, an ace, can watch people expressing passionate love, knowing that this is officially non-sexual and that the romance bit is not really romance. In short, people of different genders/sexualities can find themselves in the ambiguity of Takarazuka.


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16 thoughts on “Takarazuka: Passionate, Yet Non-Sexual

  1. This post is very to the point about the non-sexual nature of the Revue.
    Many people watch the Revue for different reasons, as for myself as an ace, genderqueer person, I watch it first and for most for its artistic value, and the messing up with gender just gives me a nice image of what we can be if we want.

    Sadly many people from west simply grasp on the “sexual-gender” hints from the theatre instead of the Art they provide.
    These girls work so freaking hard (as you mentioned they have no time for relationship even if they are allowed to have them) and they deserve the respect of being seen and judged for their art, skills, talents instead of what they do or not in their bed.

    The last part of my above paragraph, is exactly the reason why I’m personally supporting the violet code (age, realname, private life should not be discussed in public) because in a sense it protects their dignity. And if you ask me, it is disrespectful to assume anyone’s sexuality or sexual behaviour, without their permission.

    All in all I agree with what you are writing, and I’m glad that such posts are around.

    by the way which is your favourite troupe, and who is your favourite star?
    I’m a hoshi fan, with Yuzuki Reon, and Rei Makoto being my favourites and I also adore Ouki Kaname ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yay, another ace who loves Takarazuka!

      I feel that I have not seen enough to decide which is my favorite troupe, but I have Yuzuki Reon live and impressed, though I think my favorite performer in Star Troupe is actually Nene Yumesaki.

      • Nenechan is amazing I love her, she is my favourtie musumeyaku.
        I had the lack to see her live as Juliette (in 2010) she is an incredible artist. Some of my favourite roles of hers have to be Carmen, and Josephine, she is a true goddess ๐Ÿ˜€

        How long have you been a Takarazuka fan?

      • Sorry for the late reply (I am travelling and have limited internet access).

        Though I have been interested in Takarazuka for years, I did not actually get a chance to see a show until this year (I missed the Takarazuka show in Taiwan last year because I found out about it too late … darnit). So I am a relatively new fan.

        Speaking of which, I plan to try to get tachimi tickets for Elisabeth (I failed to get advanced tickets). In any case, I will be going back to Quatre Reves, and given my limited budget I am never sure which DVDs are the best to pick up (the last time I was there I picked up a DVD featuring some retired stars since that is the only way I can ever see them perform). Are there any DVDs that you recommend in particular?

  2. Ah no worries ๐Ÿ™‚
    Elisabeth will be really hard to get even same day tickets, you will have to get there early, week days like Thursday will be less difficult. Some fans line up from the day before for tickets ==; and considering how long in has been since the last Elisabeth, and the fact that Asumi Rio is incredibly popular, you might need to try more than once to get a day ticket.

    as for recommendations, I can only speak of hoshigumi since that’s the troupe I love, but since you said you like Nene, I would totally recommend ใ€Žๆฟ€ๆƒ…ใ€ใ€ŽBOLEROใ€ (it’s Carmen, and Nene is absolutely perfect in that role, plus a very nice revue)
    another one of my top favourite plays/shows is ใ€Ž็ฅ็€่‰ฒใฎ้›จใซใฌใ‚Œใฆใ€ใ€ŽCelebrityใ€
    Nene’s role is the exact opposite of Carmen, she is a Lady in this one, and Chie is actually adorable XD, as for the Revue it is my favourite so far, it has a modern air, they wear leathers, they fight like superheroes ๐Ÿ˜› it is very funny.
    They are both non-grand theatre shows (meaning only half of the troupe performs)so the DVD prices are lower than the grand shows ๐Ÿ™‚

    ~Karu~

    • I think I will try to pick up Bolero.

      As far as getting tachimi … can I set up a sleeping mat while waiting in line? Can I set up a tent? I think camping outside the Grand Theater would be awesome, but only if it is allowed since it is private property and all. If I were to start lining up the afternoon before a weekday show, would my chances of getting a tachimi ticket be good?

      • There are two Bolero’s so if you tell them “gekijoyu, jose to carmen/bolero” they will understand which one ^^; if you don’t they might give you the grandtheatre version which has a different play ๐Ÿ˜›
        as for day tickets I think you need to observe yourself to see how early you should go.
        the only same day tickets I got to a sold out show was in Tokyo and I only got there about 8:00 am
        I think just going about 7:00 am for elizabeth in takarazuka will be fine for weekdays, but if that;s not enough then you probably need to go there earlier ^^;

      • If I take the first train from Umeda (Osaka) station in the morning, I should arrive at Takarazuka at about 6am, and I also know that Grand Theater shows are easier to get tickets for than Tokyo shows. So I guess I do not need to stay in Takarazuka overnight. On the other hand, if I can camp at Takarazuka overnight instead of paying for accommodation in Osaka, I have more yen to spend at Takarazuka, but accommodation in Osaka is so cheap that this will not make much of a difference.

        This does out Kyoto since the transit connections between Takarazuka and Kyoto are not as good as Osaka-Takarazuka (I am considering a trip to Lake Biwa, and Kyoto is the best base for that – but it is also perfectly possible to visit Lake Biwa from Osaka as well).

        By the way, have you ever seen a geisha dance show? I once happened to see a Geisha dance show (Kitano Odori to be specific) the day before I saw a Takarazuka show, and I think it interesting to compare them since they are both feature female performers who pour everything they have into perfecting their skill, and they are both very visually flashy (albeit in different ways).

  3. Sorry for the late reply, I replied you mentally D: when I got the email but I never really typed my reply *facepalm*

    It will probably be okay to go line up at such early time, you might even get there first and be able to pick up a center seat ^^

    I’ve never seen a gaisha show nope. But as far as I know there completely different culturally, but the training and discipline are probably similar, since all such old stuff mostly follow training practices made for military…

    I know that TMS brings a military force to teach things to the girls (like marching and sync, and bowing)
    so.. ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Ha, my reply is way later (in my defense, I often go days without internet access during my ongoing travel in East Asia).

      Alas, I do not think getting early with help me get a center seat, since the tachimi spots at the Grand Theatre are based on whoever claims them first when the doors are opened. What might help is my ability to move quickly through crowds.

      Anyway, I hope I things will work out one way or another.

      • it will, because what is available on same day tickets is the last row of the balcony and the standing seats, so getting there early enough you can grasp and last row seat and with that you are asked to choose ๐Ÿ™‚ where you want to sit ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Yes … but I think I would prefer tachimi over the back row seats. Tachimi spots have better views, and I have seen quite a few shows in London while standing up, so I know that standing through an entire show is not a problem for me.

      • ohh you should not worry about sitting
        because the threatre is made in such a way that there is no way you will have problem seeing, I was sitting and no head ever got in my line of vision ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I know that I get a complete view even in the back seats, but I care more about getting a better view than sitting down.

        Though the seats do have the advantage that I do not need to rush for a seat … hmmm, oh well as long as I see the show I will be happy.

  4. Pingback: This Blog’s 3rd Anniversary! | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

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