Far above the narrow Toei-Oedo line, lies a bar in the back alley of Roppongi Hills. The thriving nightlife amalgamated with people from all over the world, this city is a living fukubukuro. This bar in particular, stands apart from the pubs.
This bar is located only a couple minutes from the train station. As you enter down the stairway, there you will see a lounge with walls covered in pink and white stripes, accessorized with posters of the hosts and autographs of famous people who have experienced this exclusive experience. The payments are conducted in this petite lounge, which reminds the patron of a reception area at a motel. In contrast to the peppy reception area, the stairwell to the bar is dark and dim, an aurora of mystery. The door at the top of the stairwell opens with a thriving atmosphere of guests sitting on rows of seats with tables parallel facing a stage.
Now, when one thinks of a bar in Japan, one may envision a scene mixed with beer, sake, Japanese hosts and hostesses, and salarymen accompanied by their co-workers. Kingyo is not a typical bar. The hosts are also dancers of a 60- minute theatre show. As they greet the guests with their name cards, they approach each party and strike up conversations. The hosts dominantly consist of the transgender and gay men. Due to their gender, some may talk in onee-kotoba, which is a socio- linguistic term used for sexual minorities as a helpful tool to communicate in their gender identity.
Despite the fact that Kingyo is a bar, the customers of Kingyo had a surprisingly diverse format. From my experience at the bar, there was a family with two kids, a group of middle-aged women, foreign English speakers, salarymen, and some elderly.
The show is conducted in a Neo- Kabuki style, presented with an emphasis on not only the modern, but also the history of Japan such as the Meiji Restoration, and the dark, aching years of the World War II. The dancers move with acrobatic beats to the rhythm of the music and the stage. This stage is constantly changing in accordance to the theme in nearly all variations: the radiance of the colors, sloping stairs, heightened bridges, and adding supplementary equipment. The message sentimentally delivers in a moving manner despite what culture the audience comes from. They are strict about photography and cell phone usage; however, they allow the audience to come up to the stage to be photographed with the dancers upon request.
For more information about Kingyo, please visit http://www.kingyo.co.jp/en/