The Takurazuka stage production of the classic caper film naturally features the usual all-female cast, with lots of choice roles for the otokoyaku actresses who specialize in male roles! Taking a page from the training traditions of onnagata (kabuki actors who specialize in female roles), from the moment they are chosen to impersonate dudes, the Takurazuka otokoyaki-wannabes get manly haircuts, wear manly clothes and switch to using manly forms of Japanese when they speak. These days neither onnagata nor otokoyaki are forced to live as the opposite sex when offstage, but onstage onnagata still play a Japanese man’s idea of the ideal woman, and otokoyaki represent a Japanese woman’s idea of the ideal man.
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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had
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