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caithion in vintage_zuka

Takarazuka and I: Tougou Haruko

The Upperclassmen Were Frightening
by Tougou Haruko


At the time, the dream city I longed for, Takarazuka, was considerably far from Tokyo, but even now I remember as well as if it happened yesterday. Aside from school trips, I had never been outside of Tokyo. I took the night train from Tokyo, arriving in Osaka in the morning, when I could see the mountains. I transfered to the Fukuchiyama Line, and all around the stations the mountains and fields stretched. "Wow," I thought, "I've really come to the countryside now." It swiftly separated from the image of my dream city in my mind, and I thought it seemed lonely, but my heart was so full to bursting that it hurt, with the thought that I would be a Takarazuka student and wear the green hakama.

The dorm for the first year students was a two-storied, wooden structure, and seemed to rattle and sway as you walked down the hallways. There were three girls to each four-tatami mat room. Yes, and our first dorm meal was boiled kouya doufu (freeze-dried tofu) and sunny-side-up fried eggs -- but only one. For our third meal every day we went to the dorm of the 2nd year students, which was a little ways off. That was when I could also read the letters that came from my mother in Tokyo; that was the time when I hid how hungry I had become from the day's lessons. There weren't coolers or heaters in the dorm rooms. So in the winter it was cold and we hurried into bed with our hot-water bottles, and curled around them while talking with our roommates. On the quiet nights it was so desolate to hear the whistle ringing out as the night trains went along the Fukuchiyama Line. The upperclassmen were frightening. If they found any small fault in your bowed greeting, some of them would call you into a room and give you a sermon. We anxiously awaited the Sunday trips to Kobe or Osaka, when we went out to the movies. Men of course, OF COURSE, were prohibited. It was even forbidden to walk with your father. In the beginning our monthly wage was 15 yen, and the dormitory cost 13 yen. It was impossible to live on the remainder, so my family sent me some, but it quickly disappeared in udon shops and on bean-jam. And when the school term was finished, we tied all of our belonging up in a wicker trunk, put our futon into futon bags with name tags, and left it all in our rooms, returning to our various hometowns. One week after we went home, our test results were to be sent out. I couldn't relax until then, and wandered aimlessly out to check the letter box countless times every day. They told us that they would immediately post our belongings back to us if we didn't pass the examination. I suppose they thought it was better not to have those who had failed have to come back for them.

The first and second year students graduated, and I was placed into Snow Troupe. During the war we traveled around entertaining the troops, the rural communities, the coal mines -- working to raise morale. We carried our packs on our backs. And then, after the war, when I went to the Tokyo Theater (Nichigeki) for the first time, we all came to the capital with our packs on our backs. The staff of the Nichigeki seemed shocked when they came out to meet us.

Now I have quit the Revue, and the enjoyable times and the hard times are all dear in my memories. To me, Takarazuka is a second home.

Comments

Me too! These short reminiscences are very good at whetting my appetite.