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Highly competitive world of Takarazuka leads to downfall

Shukan Jitsuwa July 26
Shukan Jitsuwa July 26
Following the arrest last week of a former Takarazuka Revue member for blackmail, Shukan Jitsuwa (July 26) explains that the highly competitive environment within the performance troupe is what started her fall from grace.

On July 4, officers from the Takinogawa Police Station in Tokyo’s Kita Ward took Maki Kanebayashi, 44, and gangster Yoshihiro Kemuyama, 55, who is currently imprisoned for violating the stimulants control law, into custody for allegedly demanding one million yen from a 55-year-old taxi driver in a coffee shop in the Nishi Nippori district of Arakawa Ward on December 25 of last year.

The suspects claimed that the taxi driver was responsible for Kanebayashi being pregnant. “You are playing dumb about the pregnancy,” Kemuyama, a member of the Sumiyoshi-kai organized crime group, reportedly said. “I am a yakuza. Live up to your obligations.”

Kanebayashi has reportedly admitted to the allegations, while Kemuyama has denied demanding money.

The former performer was introduced to the taxi driver through an encounter Web site in November of last year. The pair met up a number of times thereafter. According to officers, Kanebayashi’s pregnancy claim was false.

Kanebayashi entered the Takarazuka Revue after graduation from the Takarazuka Music School, located in Hyogo Prefecture, in 1987. She performed under the stage name Ai Hamakaze until leaving the troupe in 1990.

“She was substandard as a dancer and singer,” a person affiliated with the troupe tells Shukan Jitsuwa. So after her third year, she quit.”

The magazine says that all Takarazuka members must first graduate from the music school within two years. “After that, they will hit the stage,” says the aforementioned source. “It is at this time that some will realize their limitations as far as talent, and in such cases they will quit.”

Some may then enter the hostess biz, while others could choose to become the mistress of a wealthy business man — regardless, listing the Takarazuka troupe on one’s resume is a sure-fire start in manipulating men.

In the case of Kanebayashi, she became employed as a waitress, hotel staff member, and sex worker.

Kyosuke Yamashita, the author of “The Trial of Takarazuka Bullying: The Current Young Girl’s Flower Garden,” a synopsis of trial proceedings that resulted from the false accusations made by students at the Takarazuka Music School, says that young performers face a lot of stress.

The author describes one girl who was falsely accused of shoplifting by a fellow student and subsequently expelled. The accused student took the music school to court, which ruled that the institution was liable for damages.

The book describes other forms of infighting. “A girl’s performance shoes or clothes will go missing,” says a person who works at a supply company for the theater. “Or a dress will be found to have been cut.”

The source clearly remembers one girl who was constantly in tears. “On stage, she couldn’t stop crying,” says the insider. “Since performers have to pretend and hide their feelings while entertaining, it must really be a matter of survival backstage.” (K.N.)

Source: “Tsutsumotase taiho de hakkakushita fuzoku-jo ni oshiru Takarajennu no yami,” Shukan Jitsuwa (July 26, page 214)