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Edna Best

caithion in vintage_zuka

44th Class Classmate Talk: Their Troupes May be Separate, But Their Hearts are One

Since nothing has been posted in the comm in a while, I'm cross-posting this translation.

A little back-story on this one. This is an article from the December 1966 issue of GRAPH, featuring an interview with six of the remaining eight members of the 44th class (1957). One of those members is Matsumoto Yuri, who is still a member of Senka today. At the time, she was a member of Snow Troupe, as was Hayama Michiko, who also went on to join Senka, and remained a member until 1996 when she retired and became vice-principal of TMS. There were also three members of Star Troupe: Kamiji Chizuru (retired in '74), Nazuki Hitomi (retired in '76) and Kokonoe Sakiko (retired in '69), as well as one member of Flower Troupe: Miwa Hisayuri† (retired in '67). Miwa Hisayuri had several lead roles at the time, in Star Troupe and Flower Troupe. Because the two members of Moon Troupe were absent, and considering the author's introduction, the interview itself probably took place on or around October 27th.

(†) Most Japanese online sources list her name as splitting "Miwahisa" and "Yuri," but throughout the article her name is written as "Miwa," and I can't imagine they would drop half her name like that. So I'm going to break with tradition and write it Miwa Hisayuri.

Classmate Talk
Their Troupes May be Separate, But Their Hearts are One
Participants: Miwa Hisayuri (Flower), Hayama Michiko (Snow), Matsumoto Yuri (Snow), Kamiji Chizuru (Star), Kokonoe Sakiko (Star), Nazuki Hitomi (Star)

● From their hatsubutai, the members of this class were said to be both lovely and--more importantly--studious and serious. Their steady footprints remain in various places as they work hard on the stage. Flower Troupe is on the verge of their Tokyo Theater performance, the opening night for Star Troupe's November performance is close, and Snow Troupe had a flawless closing night for their month-long performance today. Members of these three troupes found time in their hectic schedule to come have a talk with us. We'll call them the "Best Six."

Reporter: Miwa-san, you're leaving for Tokyo soon (Wakaba Midori and Suma Nagisa of Moon Troupe are absent because Moon Troupe is on a National Tour), so we appreciate your being here.

Hayama: It's too bad, but there's nothing we can do. There are eight members of our class remaining. Only the best are left, so we're called the "Best Eight." (laughs) But tonight we've become the Best Six.

Miwa: Don't you think all of our classmates are happily married? Mucchan (Komonji Mari) left the Tokyo theater group she had joined and she has such a cute child now, and Kuwa-chan (Seto Michiru) married the Chunichi athlete Etou¹ and now she's a celebrity wife.

Matsumoto: Nishijima Emiko and Naka Machiko (Ookawa Sumiko) are currently on stage and in the movies. Sono Chikako has left the movies and is running a wonderful bed and breakfast with a beautiful view at Gamagori.

Kamiji: A lot of our classmates are running shops, aren't they?

Miwa: I have heard that Takatori Makiko is running a large bed and breakfast called "Kyoryuan" at Shuzenji Temple and is very happy.

Nazuki: You don't hear, "After leaving, so-and-so is very unfortunate."

Miwa: That's really uplifting. As their classmate, it makes me really happy.

Hayama: Chicchi (Miho Tsukushi) runs a coffee shop in Osaka, Miki-chan (Chiyozato Shinobu) has also opened a restaurant, in Tokyo, and is a very cute owner. Everyone seems to have found a good path.

Matsumoto: Arako (Nijino Chie) has become Yokozawa Hideo-sensei's² wife, and she's become radiant.

Kokonoe: Shii-chan (Chinami Shizuka) has also become a good wife. She's living with her husband in Rome now. She was such a wonderful, handsome otokoyaku, I couldn't believe she left so soon. (laughs)

Hayama: We're often told that our class had a lot of beauties.

Kokonoe: Yukko (Nazuki) was told she should leave early and get married.... (laughs)

Nazuki: And instead I'm one of the Best Eight still toiling away. (laughs)

Kamiji: Your outward appearance is very gentle, and so I think everyone thinks you should hurry and be a bride, don't you think?

Nazuki: While the real me is all about comics. (laughs)

Miwa: Your troupe is different, and even as a yokasei³ you stood out from the class. I don't know you deeply, but I think you are more cheerful person than you appear.

Hayama: Although you seem a little starchy, you're sweet on the inside.

Kamiji: As the youngest of four sisters, she still has that spirit of a youngest child. She'll never grow up. (laughs) She may seem gentle, but actually she's really funny. And yet very feminine..... But even saying that, doesn't she have a strange sensuality? (laughs)

Kokonoe: A kind of feeling of: "This is a girl!"

Kamiji: However, other than that Yukko's dependable. Dependable, yet even if she says she can do her own shopping, if a friend doesn't go with her it won't get done. When that doesn't happen, she can't quite manage it; in other words, she has a strong tendency to go along with other's wishes.

Kokonoe: She'll even listen carefully to the stories of dull people......

Kamiji: No matter the situation, she'll never say anything to anyone to make them feel their faults.

Matsumoto: Her friend Kuri-chan (Kamiji) is, conversely, mature, so the two of them make a good contrast.

Miwa: Kuri-chan is straightforward and frank. You might say her personality is a lot like a man's.....

Matsumoto: That's right. Mild and clear.

Nazuki: She may seem relatively strict, but she also has a tender side. And she's very shy.

Kamiji: I'm the shy one, the most.

Nazuki: She has leadership skills, and always looks out for others in trouble.

Kokonoe: For example, she does annoying things like cutting the tips of false eyelashes without a blink. Which is why all her classmates depend upon her.

Kamiji: Although other than that I don't have any skills. (laughs) I speak too plainly and there are times when I'm misunderstood.

Kokonoe: At any rate, she's an efficient Edo Girl4, so she's allowed to speak plainly. Although maybe she could stand to be a bit more vague. (laughs)

Hayama: Speaking of frankness, Ikkyu (Miwa) is the same way.

Nazuki: That's true, very plain-speaking.

Matsumoto: And she also has a big-sister disposition, so if something is troubling you she makes a good ear.

Miwa: Oh? Really? (laughs)

Hayama: I always admire those who so often look out for others.

Kamiji: She never seemed flamboyant when we were underclassmen, and she never really stood out, but now she's top among her classmates. As a child she was cute like a young scamp at a temple so that her nickname is Ikkyu-san. Back then no one could have imagined that she'd turn into a musumeyaku with such good sense. (laughs)

Nazuki: Ikkyu is the one who changed the most. She's completely different.

Kokonoe: Watching Ikkyu on stage, I thought of what an adult she had become, but when we shared a dressing room during the Tokyo Theater production of "Love Story of a Castle in the Foggy Night," I realized that many of her cute bits had survived after all and I was glad. (laughs)

Nazuki: Konsei-chan (Hayama) has always really loved people. If you ask her for a favor she never prevaricates. If there is anything she can do, she throws herself into it. (laughs)

Hayama: There are times when I wonder why I'm so agreeable.

Miwa: Because you're a naturally kind person! And spending time with her is really fun! Time just flies by. There's a sense that she's endowed with a way to naturally make people have fun, and I want to be jealous. (laughs)

Nazuki: Getting people to enjoy themselves is a wonderful gift.

Miwa: It's different from making too much of a fuss over someone who is a good cook.

Matsumoto: It's awful to turn people off, so even if I have to make sacrifices, if it helps others out I'll do it. .... Is what she says, but none of us can do that.

Hayama: I don't mind making a fool of myself for people, but Mieko-chan (Matsumoto) also lets others lean on her too much. And that's hurt at times, hasn't it?

Miwa: Mieko-chan is calm. No matter the situation she doesn't panic and keeps her cool. (laughs)

Nazuki: Truly. And she's amazingly slow! I think someone this slow is rare. (laughs)

Kokonoe: We're reasonably slow and leisurely, but Mieko-chan is on a completely different scale. We were together for the entire Paris Tour, so I got dragged into her pace. (laughs)

Matsumoto: I'm sorry. (laughs)

Hayama: I'm more in a rush than others, so it's a mystery how we really haven't gotten into a fight. (laughs)

Nazuki: Mieko-chan is soft-spoken.

Matsumoto: But the truth is I'm forceful.

Hayama: But you don't seem it, which is a benefit.

Kamiji: Among us, Fuyou-chan (Kokonoe) is the most ladylike, wouldn't you say?

Nazuki: But there are some unexpectedly masculine bits to her personality. I wonder if it's because, unlike me, she grew up among four brothers? Every once in a while I see something which makes me pause.

Kokonoe: That's why when I was younger I flew around playing with a pistol rather than playing house. When I entered the preparatory course, it was all girls, and for a little while it seemed dizzying. (laughs)

Kamiji: But you notice the fine details, and as a stage performer you have grown personally; you're always reading books and I admire you for absorbing all kinds of things.

Nazuki: No matter how expensive the book, even those that are so many thousand yen, she snaps them up and reads them.

Kokonoe: But I feel like there's so much more I need to learn about the stage.....

Kamiji: But learning about life is important too.

Miwa: She seems light-hearted, but she knows clearly what she likes and dislikes.

Kamiji: The kind of personality that has a clear idea of where they're meant to go. That's why it's very different when she goes shopping, compared to Yukko; she doesn't worry about consulting others, but buys based on what she thinks.

Hayama: I'm always thinking what a good voice she has and how I wish she had more chances to sing.

Kamiji: She has a big build, so she's an excellent dancer.

Nazuki: She's pretty and attractive.

Kokonoe: I think it would be better if I exercised more, but I can't do it well.

Kamiji: I'd like to see you acting just once, too5. You haven't really been blessed with that chance yet, which is too bad. In general, there isn't really anyone in our class who is the type to have pushed others aside and butted their way in.

Kokonoe: We have more of a sense of keeping in step and getting along.

Kamiji: Only 30 percent make appearances, 50 percent of the time. A fatal wound. (laughs)

Kokonoe: I think we're deficient in the bluff needed as stage performers....

Kamiji: Our schooling was different than the classes below us, like Ecchan (Takashiro Juri)'s, in that we only had one year, while starting with her class they split it into two years of preparatory, and so there was one vacant year6. So our class actually spent two years as the youngest underclassmen, and I think as a natural result of that maybe we were spoiled.

Nazuki: I think the boosts they gave us to keep us from falling at the beginning contributed to our carefree attitude.

Kamiji: And so Ecchan's class, which spent two years truly studying, burst onto the scene and we were panicked. (laughs)

Kokonoe: I don't know what good it is to say this now, but in any case, you can't spend two leisurely years as the youngest class! (laughs)

Kamiji: But we had been given the stamp of approval when we were students, by our teachers saying, "These girls are fine," and I suppose we put too much faith on that in our actions. (laughs)

Nazuki: And we somehow ended up adopting an attitude of letting others take care of things and not trying too hard..... (laughs)

Miwa: The upperclassmen's actions are very important examples to the underclassmen. By the way, Mieko-chan, you have a very mature sensuality on stage, don't you?

Hayama: Habitual, but sensual.

Kamiji: Because she took the Matsumoto style for her name, which has served as a great focus to have. Her "Kyoumai" during the Paris Tour was really excellent. It was soothing.

Matsumoto: That made me truly happy, as it had been a dream of mine since our first debut.

Nazuki: It's really great to see classmates doing well.

Miwa: Her dancing embodies a sensuality that is different from the Takarazuka version; it is very mature.

Hayama: Even in rehearsal clothing, there's something different and more mature about her. When I get drawn into it, I feel like I'm a shichigosai7. (laughs)

Miwa: When Mieko-chan wears a kimono, somehow she has the gravitas of the Japanese dance instructors. (laughs)

Nazuki: Konsei-chan makes a pretty tasty handsome young man. She doesn't even have to construct it on purpose.

Matsumoto: Her acting is also good, but her dancing is divine. After all, she's passionate about attending all of Ootaki-sensei, Kanda-sensei, and Shuri-sensei's dance lessons.

Miwa: She really is great at dancing.

Hayama: For acting, I'd like to try performing a dirty role; any role. I'd like to dance too. When I consider it, I kind of jumped from children roles to old people roles in one bound. (laughs)

Miwa: I wish Kuri-chan was given more singing.

Kokonoe: Her sense of rhythm is good, and her voice is good.....

Nazuki: When she was an underclassman she often got to sing. She sings, and even among the entire troupe you can hear her voice.

Kamiji: Jazz, chanson, even folk songs, I'd like to try singing them all. In Sand Dune8 I was allowed to sing "Yasugi-bushi," and I was so happy.

Kokonoe: Yukko was used in a trio9 from early on, and I wish you would capitalize on that more.

Kamiji: Her voice is showcased well in a trio, and makes a pretty harmony; it's such a pretty voice.

Kokonoe: I hope you can personalize your singing even more in the future.

Kamiji: Please show more of your own power.

Nazuki: I'm one of those people who only gives about ten out of a hundred, aren't I? I think I have to be more proactive.

Matsumoto: Ikkyu's acting has individuality, and she's so good at dressing well in costume! I'm always impressed.

Kamiji: How she wears her hair style and costume is refined. I believe that is the case because she is continually experimenting .

Miwa: I'm always thinking of this and that and trying not to deviate from the intentions of the design; when making accessories and basting I consult with the costume designers.

Nazuki: Even if it's only a hair style, if Ikkyu fixes it for me it's completely changed. She has that kind of touch.

Matsumoto: Ikkyu was in a trio with Oomachi Keiko and Kan-sama (Asadori Chiho); wasn't that an amazing learning experience?

Miwa: I really learned a lot! Even thinking back on it now, they really had to bring me along with them.

Matsumoto: That assistance helped make possible the flesh and blood which is Ikkyu today.

Miwa: Back then the trio wasn't just on stage, I also exercised with Kan-sama and Oomachi Keiko, so that we were as one on stage. Thinking back on that, I'm grateful to the two of them from the bottom of my heart.

Hayama: I'm sure they would be happy to hear it.

Kokonoe: You were great, Ikkyu, how you stuck through it all, even through the tears.

Matsumoto: When we were underclassmen, manners were very strict, weren't they?

Miwa: Thinking about it now, it's good I was told to stick with it.

Hayama: I may have thought of it as a time of freedom, but I had it wrong, and it's sad that I don't have those manners.

Matsumoto: In any case, there were many things that the upperclassmen were strict about.... (laughs)

Hayama: Kuri-chan is an Edo Girl, so can speak crisply, but if the rest of us were to speak like that, the person we were talking to would think us abrupt. So I think those manners would be wasted on us.

Kamiji: They frequently had an eye on me. So I cried a lot. (laughs) But you know, when I became an upperclassman, somehow I really understand what they were saying to me then. My conduct was awful, so of course my elders took note of it.

Kokonoe: Because they were strict to us back then, I don't want to do the same to underclassmen.....

Kamiji: So you're excessively soft-hearted. The upperclassmen tell you to be strict..... (laughs)

Hayama: It's difficult to be the one intervening. (laughs)

Miwa: When I lived in the Revue dormitories, I had many opportunities to speak with the underclassmen, but since changing to an apartment those opportunities have become fewer. So I think, "That's no good," and I endeavor to speak more with the underclassmen. The intimacy between upperclassmen and underclassmen is one of the good things about Takarazuka.

Hayama: But the times have changed, and everyone is good at things like makeup from the beginning.

Matsumoto: Foremost, they take out cosmetics with such great colors.....

Kamiji: And there is so much television and so many performances to see. So that there are a lot of things near to them for them to learn makeup from.

Kokonoe: And stage shoes have gotten better than they ever were, and tights aren't the flesh toned ones that we wore, but they can even wear fishnet stockings.

Miwa: At a glance they look remarkably smart.

Matsumoto: In any case, I'm glad about today's hatsubutaisei10. There are a lot fewer who have strange makeup than there used to be.

Miwa: So we aren't careless about our stage makeup too. Everyone does it properly. (laughs)

Reporter: Well, our time is just about up now.... Thank you.

(1) Etou Shinichi -- a pro baseball player for the Chunichi Dragons.
(2) Yokozawa Hideo -- a former Takarazuka director.
(3) yokasei -- preparatory student of Takarazuka Music School. Now "yokasei" refers to the first year in the school.
(4) Edokko -- A girl from Edo (an older name for Tokyo).
(5) I think she's referring here to a solid acting part, rather than a chorus character.
(6) The 44th class was the last class to have only one year in the music school, and they graduated in '57. The 45th class had two years, and graduated in '59. So no class graduated in '58.
(7) shichigosai -- a coming of age ceremony for boys aged five, and girls aged three and seven, where the children wear kimono and go to the temple with parents, among other things.
(8) Sand Dune -- 1966 Star Troupe Grand Theater show.
(9) trio -- Groups of two or three grouped around the front stage mics to sing chorus numbers and narration. Often for up-and-comers. I don't think it's as big of a deal now as it once was, but you still see the trios and double trios during the parade.
(10) hatsubutaisei -- debutees, girls making their first appearance on the stage.


What a lovely talk! I love the ones like that, and I love finding out what OGs are doing. I am trying to decide whether this talk is similar to the more modern ones, or different, but not sure if I can decide.

(I did post something here recently, but I think the posts here go through moderation and mine never went through. Or maybe I botched it up...)

am trying to decide whether this talk is similar to the more modern ones, or different, but not sure if I can decide.

*nods* I was thinking the same thing. In many ways it was similar, but there were also differences. It's interesting.

(I did post something here recently, but I think the posts here go through moderation and mine never went through. Or maybe I botched it up...)

Oh no, really? :/ You should send a message to the moderator!
Very interesting! Thanks for translating it - I am getting more and more interested in old-time siennes (if we can count Matsumoto Yuri as old-time!)

... maybe. I wasn't sure she's even online, her LJ doesn't seem to have been updated in a year.
I know she's moving back to the US this summer, she may be back online more after that. I'm not sure.
Okay, I think it will clear up somehow...

(basically, I have found some stuff about a 1940s OG and wanted to share - there was a brief account of her in an article about an US army officer in Japan, and also something that looked like an account of her early life on Facebook of all places)
Oh, that sounds really interesting! Could you try posting it again?
Nah, it tells me that it reached maximum combination of the posts from this author in this community in the queue. That is, that it won't post anything new from me until my already queued post comes through...

I guess I'll go write to the comm owner just in case she does come online. Sorry for bothering you with this.
Not a bother! I'll try emailing her directly as well, in case she isn't getting LJ notifications anymore.
Thank you for this! I love reading interviews, but especially when it's just the Siennes chatting amonst themselves.
Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it! Chats really are fun, aren't they? :)
You. ♥
♥ I'm only sorry it took so long.