Podcast: Professor Kenko Kawasaki "The Takarazuka Revue as Filmed by the USSBS"

17 Mar 2017

The Takarazuka Revue as Filmed by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS): Continuity and Discontinuity from Pre-war to the Occupation

Since its establishment in 1914 in Takarazuka, Hyōgo Prefecture, the Takarazuka Revue has become the most popular female musical theatre troupe in Japan. However, during WWII, the Takarazuka Grand Theatre in Hyōgo was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy, and following the war, the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre was taken over by the Allied Occupation’s General Headquarters. Efforts from various stakeholders resulted in the re-opening of the Takarazuka Revue on 22nd April 1946, with the Snow Troupe's performances of Carmen and Spring Dance. This latter performance was filmed for a documentary housed at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Maryland, USA. The documentary was filmed in full colour, five years earlier than the first Japanese colour movie Carmen Comes Home (1951, dir. Kinoshita Keisuke). It was produced by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), whose main aim was to investigate the impact of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the effects of the air raids (strategic bombing). Between their core investigations, the USSBS filmed such things as city life, folk crafts, and the classical performing arts, including the Takarazuka Revue. Mimura Akira (aka Harry Mimura), who had spent some years working in Hollywood, was put in charge of the camera work.

This paper analyses the treatment of the Takarazuka Revue during the Occupation and the significance of the USSBS's filming of their performance. Moreover, it examines the historical continuity and discontinuity of the Takarazuka from the pre-war period through wartime to the Occupation.