From kabuki and noh to bunraku and rakugo, Japan is a bottomless well of traditional arts that are gradually becoming more accessible and comprehensive to foreign audiences. But underneath the veil of performing arts dubbed "culturally essential for foreign audiences" lies a hidden gem that is still largely surrounded by mystery: the all-female performing troupes Takarazuka Revue.
Largely perceived as the revolutionary sister act of kabuki, the Takarazuka Revue boasts 103 years of history bringing Japan's top actresses to the front of the country's theatrical stage in an impressively arranged Broadway-style gender twist. You get it, here women do the job and the gentlemen are just invited to watch.
Enormously successful domestically, but still intriguingly unexplored overseas, this year, Takarazuka Revue is taking on a new challenge, aimed at promoting its shows to foreign audiences in a bid to raise awareness of its cultural importance.
In October, Takarazuka Revue invites you to witness its unique take on the French musical "La Legende Du Roi Arthur" (King Arthur), an immensely popular show that has been setting audiences on their feet since its debut in Paris in September 2015.
The story is familiar: King Arthur of the Celts travels to the court at Camelot to wed the beautiful Guinevere, a lady from the neighboring realm, and makes her his queen. Together with the Knights of the Round Table, who swear an oath of loyalty, Arthur scrambles to defend his kingdom against the Saxon menace, until one day, Sir Lancelot du Lac, seeking to join the Round Table, visits Camelot…
Ryo Tamaki, the troupe's new top star, plays King Arthur, who is torn between the responsibilities fate has laid upon the young king and his love. Witnessing the troupe's fresh start as they sing and dance to French rock arranged with Celtic folk music turned pop will be something to look forward to — as well as have your (perhaps) first ever chance to see King Arthur being played by a female.
As part of its initiative to promote Takarazuka to foreigners, the troupe's owner Hankyu Railways asks for spectators' cooperation in sharing their views on the show by answering a simple questionnaire in exchange for a discounted price, sharing their view on the show and future expectations.
So if you're up for a new cultural experience and want to help Japan explore its unbeaten performing tracks — start your autumn with King Arthur.
Dates and Time: October 15, 3:30 p.m., October 16, 11 a.m. Venue: Bunkyo Civic Hall, 1-16-21 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo Price: ¥5,000 (A-rank seats) Tickets & Reservations: http://w.pia.jp/a/arthur© Japan Today