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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
3-3-6 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0074
Tel: 03 – 3222 5077
Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


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The Takarasienne and Moga: Modernity in the Prewar Girls' Culture

2. März 2005 / 18.30

Makiko Yamanashi, University of Edinburgh

 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.