Home Food & Travel A Look At The Anmitsu Hime Revue: A Must-See “Drag Show” In Fukuoka [Video]

A Look At The Anmitsu Hime Revue: A Must-See “Drag Show” In Fukuoka [Video]

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Hands down, one of the best things to do during your stay in Fukuoka.

On the second floor of a building located on Oyafukō Street in the Tenjin area of Fukuoka is a little theater called Anmitsu Hime (hime means “princess” and anmitsu is a type of Japanese sweet). Featuring stunning costumes, extravagant song and dance numbers, and plenty of comedy, the nightly shows at Anmitsu Hime have been thoroughly entertaining audiences for decades and today the theater is on the must-visit lists of many who travel to Fukuoka.

Second floor entrance area of Anmitsu Hime

The first thing that many might point out about the Anmitsu Hime Theater Troupe is that all of its members were born male and appear almost exclusively dressed as women throughout their hour-long shows. The Anmitsu Hime Revue is what in English might be called a “drag queen show” and in Japanese an “okama show.” Okama is a Japanese slang term literally meaning “pot,” which can also be used to refer to gay men and men who put on women’s clothing. Although this aspect of the show certainly adds an extra layer of complexity to it, it is by no mans the reason why so many have fallen in love with the Anmitsu Hime Revue. Instead, it appears that the reason for the show’s ongoing popularity lies in the clearly noticeable level of passion and dedication shown by the performers every night.

Dancing with dolphins

From the moment you arrive and line up on the stairs leading up to the theater, you get to see firsthand just how much the Anmitsu Hime troupe members care about what they do. They don’t have staff attending to visitors before the show. Instead, they are the ones selling tickets and making sure people line up properly. They are the ones that open the doors to let people in. And once inside, they are the ones that take your order for the complimentary drink you get with the purchase of your ticket. They even sit down with you to chat for a few minutes before the show. And after the show ends, they go outside, thank visitors personally and sell their own Anmitsu Hime merchandise.

The show itself is a colorful explosion of song, dance, and comedy that changes every season. Each new show tends to incorporate elements inspired by the current time of the year. For example, the performance seen in the photos and video in this article took place in June and so there were plenty of comedy skits and dances based on summer traditions, like going to the beach and the Gion Yamakasa Festival (one of Fukuoka’s biggest festival, which takes place every July, see featured image at top of article).

The dance numbers consist of everything from silly spoofs of Japanese pop idol groups, to routines based on traditional Japanese dances, and even some that are so extravagant, flashy, and over-the-top that they seem like they would fit perfectly into a Las Vegas showgirls performance. In between the dancing, there’s also plenty of ridiculous comedy skits, most of which will have you laughing regardless of whether you speak Japanese or not. Also, audience participation is heavily encouraged. Sometimes the Anmitsu Hime cast even recruits people to come on stage with them and join in on the fun. And at the top of the show, a sharp-witted MC takes aim at the audience, cracking hilarious jokes at their expense, in a portion of the show that seems far closer to something you might see in an American comedy club than anything you’d typically see on Japanese broadcast television, where the number one priority of comedians seems to be to never offend anyone.

Anmitsu Hime’s take on a J-pop idol

Overseeing it all is the troupe’s grand leader, an individual who goes by the very memorable name of Tomato. Also known as the group’s “Mama-san,” Tomato’s connection with Anmitsu Hime began in 1984. It was three months after Anmitsu Hime had opened and back then it was more of a bar than a full-on theater. A 19-year-old young man who was soon to be get the name Tomato and his friend went to talk to the then-Mama-san in hopes of getting hired to work during their summer break from college. By the next day, both him and his friend had been hired and the Mama-san had bestowed them with their new names. “At the time food names were popular. There was an Ichigo [strawberry], Shijimi [freshwater clam], Lemon, Purin [pudding], Wakame, Nori and others,” explained Tomato in a 2008 interview with Tenjin Keizai Shinbun. Tomato was, of course, given the name Tomato, and his friend was allowed to choose between Nasu (eggplant) and Kyuri (cucumber). He chose Kyuri.

The leader of the Anmitsu Hime Theater Troup, Tomato, in a kimono

In 1985 the Mama-san who loved food names died in the August 12, Japan Airlines Flight 123 tragedy and roughly two years after that Tomato became the fourth Mama-san of Anmitsu Hime. Over the years, Tomato and the members of Anmitsu Hime have had to face many challenges, including numerous relocations, learning how to create the elaborate costumes they use and, of course just learning how to run a live show. In 1994, they made their last move, though, arriving at their current location. It was at this point, where they could really focus more on the show side of things, turning it into what it is today.

The one and only Tomato in an epic grand finale number

Anmitsu Hime is far more than just a show. It stands as a testament to all of the blood, sweat, and tears Tomato and his troupe put into every single night. And best of all, it’s a genuinely fun show, so, if you ever find yourself in Fukuoka, go on down to Tenjin and have yourself a good time at Anmitsu Hime. You definitely won’t regret it.

If you would like to see footage of an Anmitsu Hime show, check out the video below.

Further Information

Amitsu Hime normally has two to three performances per night and Tomato can often be seen in many of these. Minors (under the age of 18) are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets tend to cost the equivalent of $40 to $50. USD For information on booking tickets you can go to their Japanese website and click on English at the top, or you can just click here.

Access and Location

The closest train station to Anmitsu Hime is Tenjin Station.

Gekidan Anmitsu Hime 劇団あんみつ姫
3-7-13 Tenjin, Chuo-ku | MT 20 Bldg. 2F
Fukuoka 810-0001, Fukuoka Prefecture
Phone: 81 92-725-2550

Images: Property of Japankyo. May not be reproduced without permission.

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