Rinko Tosaka, who joined the Takarazuka Revue in 1984 and now teaches voice lessons and acting to singers and actors at her studio “studio unseen,” was a daughter actress in Takarazuka under the name of Ai Otohara, a 70th star class member. In 2018, 25 years after she left Takarazuka in 1993, she successfully staged her own one-woman musical play as a director and actress in the Czech Republic.
Looking at her career, one would assume that she never wanted to leave the world of entertainment, even after leaving Takarazuka, but this is not the case. In the midst of her frustrations in the U.S. and struggles as a single mother, she became the only person in Japan to be certified as an international instructor (Linklater Voicework) in the field of stage vocal technique.
I saw the world!” The applause at the New York performance
In October 1989, six years after she joined the company, she was selected to join the New York tour and stepped on the stage of Radio City Music Hall with Mizuki Oura, who had established her own era as the top star of the Hana-gumi. They gave a legendary performance with a “sold out” sign, which had not been put up at the theater for years.
I was so moved! The staff of the theater ran to get the sign and put it up. At the New York show, everything was different. I felt like I had seen the world! I felt like I had seen the world!”
While showing spectacular success on stage, she also experienced a separation from her parents while she was in the company. It was a chance for her to think about “family”. Three years after finishing the New York tour, she decided to leave the Takarazuka Bau Hall for “Hello, George! which depicted the tumultuous life of a young poet.
It had been three years since my parents had passed away due to illnesses, and at that time, I was so busy getting through the things in front of me that time just flew by. I was convinced that Hello, George! I decided to leave the company because I was satisfied with the work. I had so much fun during the rehearsals! I was able to end the show in a state of love.
After leaving the troupe, she moved to New York for her husband’s job transfer.
After leaving the company, she married a Japanese man and lived in New York for one year and Los Angeles for eight years due to her husband’s job transfer. At the time of her performance in New York, she could never have imagined that she would be pushing a stroller down 6th Avenue. By the time I welcomed my second son, who was four years younger than my first, my Japanese acquaintances were limited.
By the time my second son came along, four years younger than my first, my Japanese acquaintances were limited, and I couldn’t rely on my parents. At a time when the Internet was not widely used, Takeo Watanabe, the director of the Takarazuka Revue, researched alumni living in the U.S. and compiled a list. He told us to ask for help if we needed it. However, I never contacted him myself.
When I was about eight months pregnant with my youngest child, I received a phone call from someone who was about my mother’s age and whose name was on the list, saying, “Come to the alumni gathering. I went there with trepidation and found out that it was a surprise baby shower party for me! There were balloons everywhere, and I was so surprised and happy! I cried. I cried. I was surprised that they would do so much for me just because I was on the Takarazuka list. I was helped by the human connections that Mr. Watanabe valued so much.
She became a mother of two children, connected with alumni, and seemed to be leading a happy family life, but then she experienced a major setback. When her second son turned two, she began to think about divorce. In the U.S., there is a lot of support for single mothers. Feeling that she would be able to make a new life here, she switched from a spousal visa to a student visa and chose to attend school.
I had decided that I would never perform on stage again after I left the company. But then came a turning point. I decided to get a divorce, which led me to switch to a student visa. UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Continuing Education Program. I decided to take a class at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Continuing Education Program to become a drama teacher for children. I thought I could make use of my parenting experience.
However, the class was cancelled due to insufficient enrollment. Instead, I chose to take a class in the theater method devised by Stanifuslavsky, the Russian father of theater. There I met a wonderful Russian teacher, and to further my education, I went to the Stella Adler Theatre School. This led me to my current job as a Linklater Voice teacher.
Mr. Tosaka says that Linklater Voice work is a completely different approach to stage vocalization from what he had known before. Like a baby giving birth, you create a state where there is no tension or evil thoughts. By doing so, it is a form of voice work that allows the person’s natural voice to resonate and adjusts the mind and body. Fascinated by this new method, Mr. Tosaka has made it his profession to this day.
It was another graduate who took care of the children while they attended the school. It took several hours to get to and from home, the school, and the graduates’ homes, and it was not a close distance, but there was no other way but to rely on them. The graduates, who were of different ages, and whom I had never met before, were not related to me by blood, just because they were from Takarazuka, but they treated me like family.
9.Returning to Japan due to the “sudden deportation” caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake
My base of operations is completely in the United States. Even after my divorce, I did not plan to return to Japan, but rather to make a living in the United States. In the midst of her desperate study, she was suddenly forced to return to Japan in December 2004 due to stricter regulations by the Immigration and Naturalization Service after 9/11. There was no way she could return to Takarazuka, and with no foundation to support her children, she began teaching what she had learned in the U.S. in Japan.
It was life-changing voice work,” she said. If I had known about it while I was there, it would have been much different. Although I had not yet completed the training to become an officially certified Linklater Voice Work teacher, I returned to Japan with a letter of recommendation from a teacher who supported me. I wasn’t sure if there would be any demand in Japan…”
But again, Takarazuka saved her life. With the help of a classmate of Mr. Nobutaka’s, she held a small workshop in Osaka, and felt a sense of accomplishment when she changed the participants’ voices on the spot. When I started giving lessons in Tokyo, the number of students gradually increased.
When I started giving lessons in Tokyo, the number of students gradually increased, and I began to think that it would be disrespectful if I didn’t teach with a formal qualification. When I heard that Christine Linklater, the teacher who created this voice work, was going to hold a workshop in Italy, I applied.
However, she was overworked and was hospitalized. She had to cancel everything at that time, but she couldn’t give up and kept looking for a chance.
She kept contacting Dr. Christine at Columbia University in New York several times, and finally! She agreed to meet with us. At that time, I wanted to show my children my home country, so I took them with me.
I told her honestly everything that I had been teaching in Japan by myself. Teacher Christine stared at her eldest son and suddenly asked, “Did you see your mother’s play you were acting in? Did you like it?” She asked him. When my son replied, “I like her, even though she is a different mother,” the teacher was very happy and said, “Now, you have passed the audition right here. Japan is a distant country, so I don’t care how you teach it. However, if you want to do so, would you like to participate in a three-week teacher certification training in Boston next summer? I don’t care if you want to, but would you like to participate in the three-week teacher certification training in Boston next summer?
The training took place in the summer when her oldest son was preparing for his college entrance exams and her second son for his high school entrance exams. It was just the two of them, and they were living well while taking care of their cat.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty, but the precious time I have with my children is fleeting. There were times when I wished my mother could have stayed home. However, I think they accept and support my mother who lives her life in this way. I am grateful to them.
Teaching Takarajennu, young singers, and even members of the Diet
After completing the two-year program and successfully obtaining her certification, Ms. Tosaka has taught a wide variety of people, including stage directors, music college vocalists, dancers, medical students, people who want to become teachers, members of the Diet, and even singers who sing the theme songs of TV dramas. She has also been teaching many Takarajinu since 2015, when she taught acting in ME AND MY GIRL.
My teacher, Christine, passed away last year. She said to me, “Find your voice in your country, in your language, in your culture. She told me, “Find your voice in your language and culture in your country, and don’t hang on to my old-fashioned Linklater voice.
Now I’m learning how to make tea, and I’m taking a fresh look at Japanese culture. I also found a hint in a manga that I have loved since I was a child. There is a lot of pressure, but I believe that there are things that can be seen only by putting her methods into Japanese. And from there, to be born again and to teach is an art form itself for me.
As fate would have it, Ms. Tosaka became a voice instructor. As fate would have it, Ms. Tosaka became a voice instructor, and she is sure that her involvement with the Takarazuka Revue in a new way will help the Takarajinu to shine with new talents.
Interview and writing： Katsutoshi Kamigami