As is well known, traditional Japanese theatre has been customarily a male domain, with women physically absent for the most part. The representative classical genres: nō, kyōgen, kabuki, and bunraku are performed only by men. The aim of this article is to look for and map a trajectory of the “female presence” on this predominantly all-male public stage, by exploring a phenomenon that has been largely overlooked: female versions of the popular all-male performing arts since medieval times, including reworking stories of the most prominent masculine heroes in kabuki. It could be argued that this practice did have a lasting presence in Japanese popular culture well into the twentieth century. I have come to denote this type of female-centered performances within the androcentric traditional Japanese theatre discourse as onna mono (おんなもの “female things”)—an expression that I would like to propose here as a general term inclusive of all related art forms.