New OdamaLEE Danshaku

Wakamatsu Reina

To many Japanese people Kagoshima has an image associated with burly samurai warriors and heavy drinkers of local spirit shochu. Kagoshima is actually home to a far more nuanced and interesting population.

Not far from the center of Tenmonkan, tucked away on the 4th floor of the Shimadzu building is one of Japan’s most famous “new half” (transgender) revue shows, New OdamaLEE Danshaku.

Freedom of Expression

Owner Wakamatsu Reina explains how she took over the club from the first owner, and the reason for it’s name saying, “I’m the second generation owner of this club. The name comes from the first owner and I inherited it when I took over. There are lots of reasons for the name, but it can mean whatever you think it means basically.”

Wakamatsu was obsessed with performing from a young age. She recalls, “I’ve always loved performing on stage and singing since I was little. I wanted to create the kind of place where I could perform, and I had a strong desire to realise that ambition. I also wanted to create a place where people who have the same dream could perform for themselves.”

Working to Perform

New OdamaLEE Danshaku is both a pub and a stage performance, so visitors can enjoy a drink and a chat before seeing the stage lit up. Wakamatsu says, “We work very hard each day to deliver gorgeous revues on stage and fun and entertaining audience interaction for our customers. It’s a daily battle to keep it fresh and entertaining.”

When asked about the clientele that visits Wakamatsu pauses to think for a moment before answering, “We want it to be a place where lots of people gather and have fun together, a place where we don’t stand out too much from the society around us. Our customers are young, old, men, women, and everything in between.”

She continues, “I think people who visit us are looking for a fantastic show first, also fun conversation and a little bit of us as well. I think you can see our serious side a bit as well and enjoy the contrast. The customers who keep coming back are more than just customers, it’s like they’re our friends. It’s so much fun to feel the connection between people.”

First Time Nerves

When asked if New OdamaLEE Danshaku is welcoming to newcomers, Wakamatsu says, “Everyone is afraid to come here for the first time, but they all go home with a smile on their faces.”

With increasing social awareness of LGBTQ issues in Japan, many businesses are trying to appeal to this segment of society. Wakamatsu doesn’t think the issue is complicated, saying “Well, for me personally, I don’t think that we should be limited to the LGBTQ or any classification like that. What is important is how you want to live your life as a human being. How you want to be understood by the world. I’d like to live my life in a way like that. If anyone has any problems with identity I’d like to tell them that they don’t have to think so hard – just be yourself.”

New Half in Japan

She goes on to explain the unusual Japanese terminology for transgender people saying, “New half is a term that was created in Japan to be easily understood.” (The word ‘half’ usually refers to a person of mixed race.)

She continues, “Living as a transgender person here… There are not many people who identify as transgender in Japan. It’s a little bit like what I was saying earlier. Living life in a way that I can say, ‘I am who I am’ without thinking too hard is best.”

Everybody Welcome

Wakamatsu goes on to explain the kind of clientele she hopes to attract and the concept behind her establishment, “New half, transgender, transsexual – whatever. OdamaLEE Danshaku, it’s not necessarily one thing. It’s a place where all people can gather and do interesting things. That’s the kind of place I want it to be. We want people to have a drink, enjoy a show, and have a chat with us as well. That’s the service I want to provide to everyone regardless of gender, race, identity, or anything else.”

“We do all you can drink, and if you come early with two people or more, the price is only 3,000 yen, so please come along and enjoy the show! If you can make a reservation it’s better to do so to save a seat. If you’re coming from abroad we have staff who can speak English, so you can enjoy the show. I hope more and more people come and see our show. From a giggle to a big laugh. We will do our best to entertain you and show you a great time!”


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