Takarazuka City Tourism Ambassadors (Hyogo Prefecture) talk about the charm of the city
Almost every year since 2009 in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, Tourism Ambassador Princess Knights called “Sapphires” are chosen from open recruitment to trumpet the charms of Takarazuka City. From March 2021, Nana Mitarai and Miyabi Sakaue, selected from 81 applicants, have been on duty as the 10th generation “Sapphires.” As Tourism Ambassadors, we asked them for some recommendations in Takarazuka City.
Nana Mitarai (left) and Miyabi Sakaue (right)
●Why did you want to become a 10th generation Takarazuka City Tourism Ambassador “Sapphire” Princess Knight?
Nana Mitarai: I was born in Osaka. I always loved the Takarazuka Revue so as a teenager I spent a lot of time in Takarazuka and went to lessons every day to be a Takarasienne. I applied to become a tourism ambassador because I wanted to give something back to Takarazuka City.
Miyabi Sakaue: I’m from Takarazuka. While I was studying in England, I had a chance to introduce my city to foreigners, and I rediscovered the attractiveness of Takarazuka. I applied as a tourism ambassador because I want more people to know about the charms of Takarazuka City.
●Tourism Ambassador Activities
“Sapphire” Tourism Ambassador responsibilities are wide-ranging, including promoting tourism at various events, attending ceremonies, reporting on many spots in Takarazuka City, and sharing information on Instagram. In addition, Sapphires regularly contribute to Takarazuka City’s PR magazine, “PR Takarazuka,” introducing the city’s “treasures” to help citizens rediscover the city’s attractions.
●Some lasting impressions after starting work
The two started work in earnest from March after their training. This manners training taught them the mental attitude and refined behavior befitting a Tourism Ambassador. For example, subjects studied included posture, pronunciation, yoga, as well as the best way to exchange business cards or present a bouquet of flowers.
During a guided city walk of Takarazuka, Mitarai-san, who loves the Takarazuka Revue, felt she may have spoken too passionately about the area around the Takarazuka Grand Theater. However, being able to share what she loved with many people gave her a very enjoyable memory.
They also went to the COWCOW workshop where the brand of beef called “Takarazuka beef” is produced. Sakaue-san was impressed that cows with bad relationships were separated to lower stress, and that each cow was given a name and treated with love. Raised in this comfortable environment, “Takarazuka beef” is of excellent quality, and as Sakaue-san says, “The meat melts the moment it is in your mouth, even before you start chewing, and is unbelievably delicious.”
Takarazuka beef from COWCOW workshop can be eaten at the following shop:
Address: 6-13-20 Nakasuji, Takarazuka City, Hyogo
Access: 5-minute walk from JR Nakayamadera Station
●“Hidden spots” and how to make the most of them
Mitarai-san introduced us to the pleasures of the Takarazuka Bunka Sozokan (Culture Creation Center). The Takarazuka Bunka Sozokan was used as the main school building of the Takarazuka Music School until 1998. Now, anyone can enter.
What I would like you to notice are the stairs. The stairs on either side of the main entrance have been worn down only on the left side. It seems that this happened because the preparatory students (lower level students) of the music school hurried up and down the stairs to avoid interfering with the main students (advanced students). Also, due to the concept of the stage being divided into upper and lower areas, the stairs on the upper side (on the right side when facing) were used by visitors and instructors, so they are in a beautiful, polished condition.
Please take a look when you visit.
Also, at the “Sumire ♪ Museum” on the 2nd floor of the Takarazuka Bunka Sozokan, you can learn about the history of the Takarazuka Music School and Takarazuka Revue, such as the past uniforms of Takarazuka Music School, successive graduation photos, and posters of Takarazuka Revue’s major productions. It’s fun to find photos of former Takarasienne who are still active in the entertainment world.
Takarazuka Bunka Sozokan (Cultural Creation Center)
Address: 6-12 Mukogawa-cho, Takarazuka City, Hyogo
Access: 8-minute walk from Hankyu Kiyoshikojin Station / 10-minute walk from Hankyu Takarazuka-Minamiguchi Station / 15-minute walk from Hankyu Takarazuka Station or JR Takarazuka Station
* Admission to “Sumire ♪ Museum”: 300 yen
●Recommended foods and souvenirs
〇Egg-free pudding from “Sakura Momiji Takarazuka”
Sakaue-san recommends the shop called “Sakura Momiji Takarazuka” that sells pudding made without eggs. This “Takarazuka Wapurin” can be eaten with peace of mind by people with allergies and is said to have taken about 1,000 days to develop. There are various flavors including matcha and violet.
CHA-salon Sakura Momiji
Address: Takarazuka No.3 Haitsu 102, 7-1 Miyano-cho, Takarazuka City, Hyogo
Access: 10-minute walk from Hankyu Takarazuka Station or JR Takarazuka Station
〇”Egg sandwich” from “Le Mans”
When Mitarai-san goes to see the Takarazuka Revue, she always gets an “Egg Sandwich” from the sandwich specialty store Le Mans. This product made with mounds of eggs makes it seem that the bread is the filling, and has a soft, mild taste.
Sandwich Le Mans Hananomichi Cerca
Address: Hananomichi Cerca No.2 Bldg. 2F, 1-6 Sakae-machi, Takarazuka City, Hyogo
Access: 4-minute walk from Hankyu Takarazuka Station / 6-minute walk from JR Takarazuka Station
〇”Hiyashi Chuka” from “Montsuki Kakaka”
As a perfect dish for summer, Sakaue-san recommends the chilled Chinese noodles called “hiyashi chuka” from the Asahikawa ramen shop “Montsuki Kakaka.” The owner is from Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, and the ramen aims to add to the positive image of both Asahikawa and Takarazuka cities. Until now, the summer-only hiyashi chuka could only be eaten in the store, but takeout began in June. At this popular place, there’s a line up as soon as the store opens, but now that you can get takeout, it’s easy to enjoy it in the park, at home, or at your hotel without waiting.
Address: 3-2-10 Nakasuji, Takarazuka City, Hyogo
Access: 5-minute walk from JR Nakayamadera Station / 8-minute walk from Hankyu Nakayama-kannon Station
〇”Takara-monaka” from “Eirakuan”
Mitarai-san’s favorite is “Takara-monaka.” The delicate sweetness is addictive. According to the shop staff, instead of eating it immediately after buying, it is better to leave it for about a day since it becomes even more delicious when the wafer settles into with the red bean paste.
Also, products called “Hime-takara” (“Princess Takara”) are individually wrapped and have a longer shelf life than usual, made for Takarazuka Music School students to give as presents to senior students. The product name was chosen by the writer and Takarazuka Revue fan, Seiko Tanabe.
Address: Sorio GF, 2-1-1 Sakae-machi, Takarazuka City, Hyogo
Access: 2-minute walk from Hankyu Takarazuka Station / 5-minute walk from JR Takarazuka Station
●Recommended for foreigners: Hana no Michi (Flower Road), Japanese cultural experience
For foreigners visiting Takarazuka City for the first time, Mitarai-san recommends “Hana no Michi,” or “Flower Road”. On the road that runs from Takarazuka Station to the Takarazuka Music School, various flowers including cherry blossoms and roses bloom in all four seasons. “Looking down, you will see pictures by Osamu Tezuka, the famous manga artist connected with Takarazuka, and as you walk toward the Takarazuka Grand Theater you will see the Takarazuka Hotel on your right,” said Mitarai-san. Hana no Michi is a great introduction to the charms of Takarazuka City.
This article also introduces Hana no Michi:
Another suggestion of Sakaue-san is “Tsuri Shinobu Farm” (“Hanging Fern Farm”). The tsuri shinobu plant is cultivated in only two places in Japan. This precious ornamental member of the fern family conveys the “Japaneseness” of Japan. Sakaue-san talked about making a fishing rod at the farm, and urged others, “When you visit Takarazuka, please experience it and see it with your own eyes.”
Tsuri Shinobu (“Hanging Fern”)
The charms of Takarazuka City are multifaceted, including the theater, hot springs, and nature, so, as these two ambassadors told us, no matter what the purpose of the trip may be, you’re sure to have a great time here.
Check out Instagram for the activities of Takarazuka City Tourism Ambassador Princess Knight “Sapphire”:
*The information herein is as of July 2021.
This article was originally published on Tourism Guide of Hyogo Hokusetsu.
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