The Meiji and Taisho Eras in Photographs: From photographs in publications held by the National Diet Library - Tokyo, Kansai, Tohoku in Photographs


Column <Kansai>

9 Takarazuka Onsen (Takarazuka Hot Spring)

Takarazuka Hot Spring, Settsu from
Takarazuka Hot Spring, Settsu from "Zoku Kinki Meisho Shashincho"

The scenery of the hot spring shown here is thought to be taken from the surface or from around of river flowing through Kohama-mura (Kohama Village), Kawabe-gun (Kawabe District). Muko River should be flowing near the lower grove located in the center of the photo, and there should be Horai Bridge connecting both banks in front of or near the grove in the right side of the photo. The bridge was unusual due to its structure, where the cross beams were supported by only one pier, so it often washed out by floods. Hot spring inns are on the other side (right bank) of the river. The railroad in white, running straight in front, may be Hankaku Railway (transferred to Japan Railways Company in 1907, and is now called JR Fukuchiyama Line). The single track seems to split into double tracks at the lower left, so Takarazuka Station may be located on the right side. The right side area of the bank has already been considerably urbanized, but the left side still remains an untouched open field, showing a tranquil pastoral landscape. Urbanization of this field started around the end of the Meiji era through to the Taisho era, after electric railway companies started to develop new hot springs here.

In 1887, a modern hot spring was opened in the right bank of Muko River (Isoshi-mura(Isoshi Village), Muko-gun(Muko District)), by developing the natural hot springs from which village people had been taking hot water for home bathing. At this time, the spring was named "Takarazuka Hot Spring", as it was thought to be a lucky name. Four inns were built at the start.

Originally, "Takarazuka" is a mound tomb built in Maitani-mura(Maitani Village), Kawabe-gun.

The origin of name "Takarazuka" is explained in "Setsuyo Gundan" (Note 1), a topography from roughly the Genroku era. The topography says the name came from a mound tomb that exists in Maitani-mura of Kawabe-gun. It had been a said that a person who picked up an article in front of this mound would become happy without fail, so the mound was named "Takarazuka (treasure mound, literally)". In later years, the city and the hot spring were both named after the mound.

The development of Takarazuka Hot Spring is largely owed to two railroad companies and Girls' Opera (now Takarazuka Kagekidan, or Takarazuka Revue Company). Furthermore, the contribution of Ichizo Kobayashi is also significant.

Ichizo Kobayashi was born as a son of a merchant in Nirasaki, Yamanashi-ken(Yamanashi Prefecture). After graduating from Keio University, he worked for the Mitsui Bank for a time. He later went into the railway business, serving as the auditor of Hankaku Railway, founder of the Minoo Tramway, and executive director of the same tramway. Later he became president, and chairman of Hankyu, while he founded the Takarazuka Revue Company and made efforts to develop the Revue Company serving as president of the Music School. After the war, he assumed the position of president of Toho Company. Thus he left a major mark on the Japanese economic world, connecting the railroad business with the entertainment business and the real estate business.

Development of Two Railroads and the Neighboring Areas

Two railroads refer to the Hankaku Railway and the Minoo Arima Electric Tramway (Minoo Arima Denki Kido, renamed Hanshin Kyuko Railway in 1918).

The Hankaku Railway started its operation in 1897. This triggered the formation of an urban area in Muko-gun (mentioned in "Takarazuka Onsen Annai"), during the decade or so after the opening of the railroad. In 1910, the Minoo Arima Electric Tramway (Minoo Arima Denki Kido, hereinafter "Minoo Tramway, " is now the Hankyu Takarazuka Line) opened. This led to the development of new hot springs, and an urban area grew on the left bank of Muko River, which used to be an untouched open field. Furthermore, in 1921, the Hankaku Saiho Line (now the Imazu Line) opened, and Takarazuka-Minamiguchi Station was built on the right bank. Access from Umeda and Nishinomiya also became more convenient.

You can see a picture of those days in book "Umeda yori Kobe Minoo Takarazuka e" (published by Minoo Tramway in 1921). The picture was taken from Mt.Enmei standing on the right bank of Muko River. It shows the time when the area was under development, where you can see a row of buildings on the left bank.

During the initial stage, the development project did not go well. Single-car trains were running on the Minoo Tramway, so the train was given a bad nickname "Mimizu Densha (worm-like train, literally), " referring to the sightseeing car running through agricultural fields. In addition, they had to develop new hot springs on land reclaimed at the left bank of the river, because negotiations with the relevant parties of old hot spring broke down. Overcoming these difficulties, the Minoo Tramway became successful in the railroad business, the hot spring business, and the housing development business. The company developed a new town near the current Ikeda-shi(Ikeda City) and released the lands for sale on a loan basis for the first time in Japan, targeting middle-class salaried workers.

The terminal of the Minoo Tramway was the new hot spring. The spring was intended for family-use, and was called "Paradise, " where luxurious big marbled bath rooms and amusement facilities such as music room were included. A picture taken at nearly an identical angle to this picture appears in "Sumirebana Toshi o Kasanete : Takarazukakageki 90 Nenshi (90 years' history of Takarazuka Revue), " in which the new hot spring "Paradise" is on the left bank. The photograph shows of the building of the day standing in a quiet field. It would appear that two hot springs were co-existing well together. "Takarazuka Shin Hanjo Ki" (Note 2) mentions that the new hot spring is marketing the image of modernized, mass-appeal, one-day-visit spa, and the old hot spring is marketing the image of resort, relaxation, and long sojourn.

The Minoo Tramway held many events such as a Women's Fair and Wedding Exhibition to attract more customers, but those events were found to be less attractive. So the Tramway came up with the idea of Shojo Kageki (Girls Revue Group, later Takarazuka Kagekidan). They got this idea from Shonen Ongakutai (Boys Music Band) sponsored by Osaka Mitsukoshi Department store. The origin of Shojo Kageki is Takarazuka Shokatai (Takatazuka Chorus Group) established in 1913, when 20 girls aged from 12 to 19 were recruited as the 1st and 2nd term students. They staged their first performance during the period from April 1 to May 30, 1914.

This Girls Revue Group changed its name to Takarazuka Kagekidan in October, 1940. They experienced condemnation and the closing of large theaters by military force during the war, reconstruction after the war, and then they first performed "The Rose of Versailles" in 1974, the 60th anniversary of the Kagekidan, and "Gone with the Wind" in 1977, both of which became huge unprecedented hits. Around the same time, Takarazuka Hot Spring went into its prime time. In 1970, approximately 1.33 million tourists stayed at Takarazuka Hot Spring, thanks to EXPO'70 OSAKA.

Great Hanshin Earthquake and Now

Takarazuka Hot Spring had grown as mentioned above, but its history had not been easy. Great Hanshin earthquake, which occurred in January 17, 1995, brought tremendous damage to this area. The Seismic Intensity 7 was registered in the area around Hankyu Takarazuka Station. The number of demolished or damaged houses was reported to be approximately 13,000 units across the city, and 118 people lost their lives. The depression in the Kansai area due to the Earthquake and a change in people's preference of entertainment invited the closing of Takarazuka Family Land (4 million visitors annually were recorded at its peak) and there was a decrease in the numbers of hotels and hot spring visitors. The city government is now endeavoring to make the city more attractive, proceeding with a number of revitalization projects such as the excavation of a new hot spring source, the establishment of new sightseeing dam and water fountain, and the city-operated Takarazuka Hot Spring.

(Note 1) "No. 9 Tsuka no bu," Setsuyo Gundan, vol.2, Rekishi Toshosha, 1969 p.157 【GC161-4】
(Note 2) Kitao Ryonosuke, "Takarazuka Shin Hanjo Ki," Kinki Keikan (Vol. 1: Settu/Yamato), Sogensha, 1929 【556-408】


  • Takarazuka-shi Shi Henshu Senmon Iinkai (ed.), Takarazuka-shi Shi,Vol.3, Takarazuka City, 1977 【GC172-52】
  • Okada Keishi, Setsuyo Gundan, Rekishi Toshosha, 2 volumes, 1969 (Reprint of books published by Dainihon Chishi Taikei Kankokai in 1916) 【GC161-4】
  • Hiraike Ichizo, Yamashita Yoshio (ed.), Shashinshu Meiji Taisho Showa Takarazuka: Furusato no Omoide 185, Kokusho Kankokai, 1981 【GC172-102】
  • Kato Shiho (ed.), Takarazuka Onsen Annai, Yajima Seishindo, 1903 【67-268】
  • Hanshin Kyuko Railway Company (ed.), Umeda Yori Kobe Minoo Takarazuka e, Hanshin Kyuko Railway, 1921 【11-491】
  • Tsuganesawa Toshihiro, Takarazuka Senryaku: Kobayashi Ichizo no Seikatsu Bunka-ron (Kodansha Gendai Shinsyo Series), Kodansha, 1991 【KD597-E14】
  • Takarazuka Kageki 50 Nenshi, 2 volumes (including separate volume), Takarazuka Kagekidan (Takarazuka Revue Company), 1964 【766.7-Ta377t3】
  • Sumirebana Toshi o Kasanete: Takarazukakageki 90 Nenshi, Takarazuka Kagekidan (Takarazuka Revue Company), 2004 【KD597-H13】
  • Takarazuka City (ed.), Hanshin Awaji Daishinsai: Takarazuka-shi no Kiroku 1995, Takarazuka City, 1997 【AZ-1553-G11】