Kataoka Shoen was born in Kobe in 1895. He became the disciple of Nakamura Fukuen at the age of six and made his stage debut in "Sakura Sogo" at the Kobe Daikoku Theater. He took after the name of Kataoka Shoen in 1917 in the Naka Theater of Osaka after studying under the great female impersonator-to be, Kataoka Gado.
In 1920, he was recruited by Onoe Matsunosuke and joined Nikkatsu Kyoto, where he played Shiratakihime in Hatotsukai no Ona, Oyae in Nekketsu no Yaiba, Oroku in Chizome no Ten, and Okiku in Tsujigiri no Jinnai. He mainly played the partner role of Onoe Matsunosuke, who was also called "Medama no Macchan," (Eyeball Macchan) with her oval-faced beauty. He also played the partner roles of Jitsukawa Enichiro and Nakamura Kichijuro.
His representative pieces as a female impersonator were said to be Moyuru Uzumaki written by Maeda Shozan in which he played Oaya, the strong-minded loyalist, and Rakka no Mai (Dance of the Falling Flowers) in which he played a woman with a kumezo hairdo. Nikkatsu and Makino competed for these two pieces; Tamaki Utako played Oaya and Izumi Haruko played the woman with the kumezo hairdo in Makino, but Shoen was said to be more beautiful than the two actresses of Makino.
Shoen became the leading male role in kabuki after the promotion of the actresses, and established the independent Shoen Productions in 1926, where he starred in films such as Taibo Shiden Hakko, Binan Muramasa, Otakebi no Chimata, and Kyoren Majin.