Anmitsu Hime 「あんみつ姫」

“Go once, and you’re hooked,” or so everyone says. My interest had been piqued for some time, but for this transvestite show virgin, my curiosity was tinged with a little… trepidation, maybe? Negotiating that inner tug-of-war, I dropped in to Anmitsu Hime. It’s conveniently located in the center of Fukuoka, on Tenjin’s famed Oyafuko-dori (Street of the Wayward Child). It was Sunday night, the streets outside were quiet, but inside..

…it’s a completely different world! The boisterous scene is fueled by the laughter of guests, male and female, young and old alike. Before long, the show starts. Like some condensed version of Takarazuka, the well-timed dancing in gaudy outfits flows in to comic skits, Japanese dancing and, well, sexiness—it all translates into a smorgasbord of delight for everyone. After the show, I spoke with “Tomato,” the troupe leader.

Koe: This is quite a unique theater, but what are its origins?

Tomato: I am the 4th troupe leader in its history, but when it opened about 25 years ago, so-called “show pubs” were popular among the public. Anmitsu Hime was just trying to ride that wave. But even with the dancing, it wasn’t like we were simply imitating; we learned real moves and practiced hard, creating a show that guests could truly enjoy. That spirit, formulated by our first troupe leader, is still with us today.

K: What kind of changes have you seen over these 25 years?

T: We were once perceived as a “show pub” or “gay bar,” but now people recognize us as a performance theater. Of course, the road to that recognition was a long one.

Our customers have changed a lot, too. Just as we were entering the bubble period of the 1980s, the tips from customers started growing considerably and it was a time of giddy excitement. We were increasingly asked to perform at events for companies, too. When the bubble eventually burst, many of those around me disappeared without a trace… and the people who climbed the social ladder on the back of the bubble just suddenly vanished, too. Before, we had bought most of our clothing and equipment, but after the bubble, we had to make it all ourselves. In a way you could say that we owed our more responsible attitude of conservationism to the decline.

As for the customers, there were a lot of older women and not too many youth. It was also common to see businessmen bringing young female staff. But now there are quite a few young women who come with their female friends. Likewise, we didn’t see many men coming together before, but that’s changed, too.

K: Do you have any interesting anecdotes?

T: One performer got dragged back to his hometown when it was discovered he worked here. Then there was a kid with gender identity disorder who came in, saying stuff like, “I want to become a fairy.” I ran into him the other day after a considerable absence—he’s just your average old guy with a beard now. Some customers come in wanting to talk to us about marriage or divorce. I distinctly remember going to a wedding party where I was invited to be the emcee for a couple that had met at Anmitsu Hime.

K: What’s Anmitsu Hime’s role as a tourist destination?

T: There are tons of theaters and establishments in Tokyo and Osaka doing interesting stuff everyday. There’s a large theater in Fukuoka, but there aren’t so many relatively smaller theaters where you can just go and expect to see something interesting. Anmitsu Hime has always tried to function as that smaller theater. Our idea was to have a place where you can go anytime and let it all out with laughter. We want to present entertainment that youth can enjoy or that parents and children can enjoy together like a theme park. Also, laughter in Kanto, Kansai and Hakata is different. But regardless of locality or dialect, a show that people across the country can enjoy, a show that even foreigners the world over can laugh at, a show where you can simply look and laugh and not have to think anything at all—that’s the kind of entertainment we strive to create.

At present, Anmitsu Hime is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an array of special events. For more information, refer to their website:















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