General Information: Going to See a Show
Stage door etiquette and rules (irimachi and demachi)
Takarazuka has a highly unusual and highly regimented stage door tradition that by most accounts dates back to the 1970s. With very rare exceptions, every morning and evening of a performance day or on rehearsal days, Takarazuka stars will leave the theater and interact directly with their fans before departing. The morning, or pre-performance, event is referred to as "irimachi." The evening, or post-performance, event is referred to as "demachi." Especially in Tokyo, iri-demachi is a great spectacle that will take up both sides of a city block and may last for hours.
Participants in iri-demachi are separated into two categories - "guard" and "gallery." "Guard" refers to the members of the actresses' private fanclubs, who always line up first along the street, closest to the stars. "Gallery" refers to any unaffiliated fans who gather behind the lines of the guard.
Stars will interact only with members of their fanclub (the "guard"). The "guard" will line up in rows, separated by club. Each club wears a distinct uniform inscribed with the name of their star (on a sleeve, zipper, etc.), and they are arranged by the seniority of the actress they belong to. They will usually turn over letters or presents to their star, and then depending on the person she may stay to chat or joke around with them. As the stars emerge, all members of the guard will kneel, and clubs will not disperse until all of the stars have gone home. Many clubs refuse to allow non-members to line up with them, though some clubs will make exceptions for guests of existing members, incipient members, or temporary visitors.
However, only people waiting in the gallery are allowed to take photos, and they may come and go as they please.
To read a guide to this event written from the point of view of a Japanese fan, please refer to Takarazuka Miscellany: Gallery and Guard and Takarazuka Miscellany: Stage Door and Tea Parties.