Since 1914, Japan's all-female Takarazuka theatre has been formulating what could be called shōjo bunka (少女文化: girl`s culture), or in other words, the world of the otome (乙女: maiden). Takarazuka's female performers, called Takarasiennes, could be seen as prime examples of modern girls (moga), embodying and enacting a certain kind of ''modernity'' within this new formulation of a girl`s culture.
With the aim of understanding the ''modern'' characteristics of Takarazuka and the wider context of the growing girls' culture, I will examine some significant aspects of Japanese society during the Taishō and early Shōwa periods, for example: the school system; new educational and professional opportunities for women; friendship between girls; fashion trends; and unconventional habits as illustrated in magazines. Takarazuka's famous male-impersonators had been appreciated as skilled performers, but by having young women educated, wearing mens` clothes, portraying and even acquiring mens` professions, they can be seen as modeling social advancement..
Moreover, I will point to similar trends in the international show business world of contemporary France, Britain and Weimar Germany. With this international backdrop in mind I will examine what kind of "modernity" is portrayed by the Takarasiennes, how they enacted ideas of the "modern" and how they were perceived by their audiences.
Makiko Yamanashi is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Edinburgh.
She has worked as a visiting scholar at the University of Copenhagen,
and a research assistant at University College London.