Amparo Bertram (spacealien_vamp) wrote,
Amparo Bertram
spacealien_vamp

An evening of TV

On the news last night, they did a segment on earthquakes. First they showed where the series of earthquakes hit Niigata last year...there are still over nine thousand people living in temporary housing. Next they did a story about stranded walkers. If a major earthquake hit Osaka, disrupting trains and other transportation, about two million people would be forced to walk home. They talked about supplies that such walkers would need to help them. One item I wouldn't have thought of was a manual cell phone recharger that lets you recharge your cell phone battery by turning a crank.

They have started selling a map of the city specifically designed for people forced to walk home. The makers of the map walked all the streets of Osaka, noting places with possible hazards and places to rest along the way. It's apparently selling like crazy. Convenience stores put stickers in their windows showing that they will provide tap water, the use of a bathroom, and radio information to stranded walkers. I considered myself lucky that I work across the street from my apartment and thus didn't have to know about such things...though if an earthquake like that ever hits while I'm off traveling, I'm pretty much stuck.

Later, when I turned on the TV to set my VCR, they were showing a program about Takarazuka costuming. For anyone who hasn't heard of it, Takarazuka is an all-female dancing/acting troupe based in the city of Takarazuka, west of Osaka. The characteristic of the Takarazuka dancers is that some of the women play men's roles. In order to join Takarazuka, a girl must audition for and enter the Takarazuka high school, where she then undergoes years of strict training. Each girl must choose whether she wants to play women's roles or men's roles and then focus entirely on that for the rest of her career.

It's said that the Japanese woman's ideal man is...a woman. This can be noted in comics written for girls, where many of the more popular male characters look extremely feminine. A movie version of The Tale of Genji (the world's first novel) detailing the life of the ideal Japanese man cast a woman in the lead role. The Takarazuka actors who play male roles are unbelievably popular among Japanese women. They attract swarms of rabid fans. Girls line up to hand them love letters.

The segment of the show that I caught was illustrating how the costumes of these male-role actors, particularly the pants, are altered to make the women look taller and more man-like. (I can't really say "manly" or "masculine," because that's not exactly what they're going for. They're trying to capture the "essence" of maleness without all the...roughness?...of actual men.) For example, they use straight lines running down the front or sides of the legs to make the legs look longer. The technique I thought was most interesting is that they pinch the leg to a narrow point about three inches above the knee and flare out from there, giving the illusion that the knee is higher (and therefore the leg longer) than it really is. It was all very fascinating.
Tags: culture
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