24 Feb. Seminar “Takarazuka as Gendered Landscapes…”

2022.2.24 IGS seminar “Takarazuka as Gendered Landscapes: Transculturality/Translocality of Fandom and its Possibilities”

Date:February 24, 2022 (Thursday)
Time:14:00-16:30 (JST)

At the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games all eyes around the world turned to a group of young women singing Japan’s national anthem while dressed in dark green hakamas and colourful kimonos. The group consisted of 20 active members of the Takarazuka Revue – an all-female theatre company supported almost exclusively by female audience. The performance was hailed by the foreign press as a nod to female empowerment and was welcomed by fans around the world who were pleased with the level of international exposure participating in the event has provided to the troupe. Yet opinions among domestic fans were more critical, with many Japanese fans expressing both anger at seeing Takarazuka supporting an event the public wanted cancelled and concern for health risk posed to their favourite actresses. The situation is emblematic of the clashing images the theatre seems to evoke among Takarazuka’s increasingly transnational fandom. On the one hand, we have what Jennifer Robertson (1998) refers to as the “official story” – a glamorous utopia, a “world of dreams” created by women which offers escape from everyday oppression of the male-dominated society. On the other hand, we have a theatre tightly controlled by patriarchal corporate structures working hard to preserve Takarazuka’s brand as a bastion of female “modesty, fairness, and grace” (kiyoku tadashiku utsukushiku). In this seminar we will examine these conflicting representations by focusing on Takarazuka’s domestic and sinophone fan communities, and discuss the subversive potential of Takarazuka’s transcultural and translocal fandom.

Online Seminar

(Zoom Webinar)

Guest Speaker Lucetta Kam (Associate Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University)
“Transcultural Desires and Queer Female Fandom of Takarazuka Revue in Taiwan”
  Zuzanna Baraniak-Hirata (Doctorate Student, Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University)
“Creating the “world of dreams”: A case study of Takarazuka fan culture in the Kansai region”
Discussant Wei-Jung Chang (Assistant Professor, Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts)
Moderator Fumie Ohashi (Associate Professor, IGS)
Language Japanese and English(simultaneous interpreting)
Registration Zoom Registration form


Transcultural Desires and Queer Female Fandom of Takarazuka Revue in Taiwan
Lucetta Kam

The new wave of popularity of Takarazuka Revue in Taiwan after 2000 shows how fandom is inaugurated by the colonial legacy and the post-colonial present where cultural production and consumption are not directly tied to national identities and boundaries. The new generation of queer fans of Takarazuka Revue in Taiwan actively engages in the production and articulation of queer readings and desires through a reservoir of new resources that are made available by local LGBTQ+/tongzhi movement, queer fan communities and digital technologies. The talk maps out the cultural reservoir in Taiwan that facilitates queer readings and desires of Takarazuka Revue and offers a sketch of the new generation of queer female fans in Taiwan and their activities.

Creating the “world of dreams”: A case study of Takarazuka fan culture in the Kansai region
Zuzanna Baraniak-Hirata

Boasting over a century-long history, the Takarazuka Revue is well-known for glamorous productions which attract a steady following among a predominantly female audience. Much attention has been paid to the charismatic cross-gendered performance of the otokoyaku (male role players) and their zealous fans; the distinct relation is often credited for the commercial success of the establishment. However, little attempt has been made at understanding Takarazuka’s phenomenon at the local level, especially when it comes to issues such as theatregoing practices, fan tourism, and fan community formation in physical, geographic spaces. Using the gender perspective, this paper focuses on the local Takarazuka fans’ perceptions of Takarazuka Revue’s birthplace, the Takarazuka City. I analyse individual fan narratives to explore fans’ personal relations and everyday interactions with the space surrounding the Takarazuka Grand Theatre and explain their significance in promoting the creation of a female fan network linked to a distinct Takarazuka fan culture.

Organizer: IGS, Ochanomizu University