REPORTS PUBLISHED IN PREVIOUS TRANNY GUIDES
by Vicky Lee & Frederike de Jonge
by Frederike de Jonge - Maiko (apprentice Geisha)
Artist Viviene at her exhibition with Zil ....
An example of Viviene's art
Lisa took a special day to prepare hair and costume
to meet Vicky
& KYOTO BY VICKY LEE WITH THANKS TO ZIL FEMELE
had studied for hours our Tokyo Time Out and Rough Guide
and with map in hand everywhere was easily found by tube.
However specific addresses are impossible to find as streets
are not sign posted and, businesses and dwellings all
mixed in the multi-level buildings. We were amazed at
how safe we felt - crime and violence is very rare in
Japan. However this was not true in the Ropongi district
where the ‘Gaijin’ nightclubs are grouped together. Here
I felt like my cloak of invisibility had also lost its
We had assumed that food
would be very expensive and it is true that if we had
eaten in the hotels it would have bankrupted us. However
street bars and restaurants are numerous, cheap and great
fun - if approached with an open mind and a steel stomach
(luckily we are equipped with both). Some westerners would
starve in Japan as even in western style hotels nothing
quite looks, or tastes, like anything we would recognize
as food. We giggled every morning as we woke in the Kyoto
Hotel Miyako used by the Prince Charles
and ‘Diana’ Princess of Wales, to a breakfast of pot noodles
from the little supermarket near our hotel, made with
our room kettle before hitting the streets later for brunch.
is a visual feast. At night the neon lights and giant
outdoor screens showing pop videos and film previews are
electrifying. Statisticaly Tokyo is populated predominantly
by single women and shops and bars and fun parlors cater
to this market, so Tokyo is girly heaven. However even
Lesley at UK size 12 could not find anything that fitted,
but that did not stop us looking. Fun parlors not only
feature karaoke but also dance games and picture tents
that are light years ahead of our best photo booths. plus
game machines yet unimagined.
20 years ago no one in
Japan had colored hair. Young people were all cramming
for top grades at school and ‘salary men’ in dark suits
did their duty and drank together after work to bond for
better productivity. But times have changed. Japan no
longer offers careers for life and company loyalty and
uniformity has been replaced with individuality. "But
everyone looks the same" - this has lead the young to
adopt a ‘style’ and use themselves as a canvas to create
saw groups of ‘Pamela Andersons’ girls with bleach blonde
hair, silicone tits and 8inch hooker shoes. Groups of
‘School Girls’ in their 20s with white socks and trainers,
school uniform and bleached ginger hair in bunches. ‘Goth
Girls’ with piercings and florescent colored streaks through
their black hair. Everywhere we looked, late into the
evening, we saw on the streets a fancy dress party of
styles and fashions. Hip Hop, Rasta, 50s, 60s (luckily
no 70s). It was amazing. As you can imagine this means
that whatever I wore was not questioned anywhere.
I have had a loyal correspondent
from Japan for many years. Zil Femele has regularly sent
reports to the Tranny Guide and in 2000 I met her with
a group of friends in London. They visited WayOut and
we were together at the Skin Two Rubber Ball.
Tokyo Zil was more than welcoming she made our weekend
in Tokyo very special. Zil took us first to an art exhibition
by her friend Viviene. The exhipition was held in a trendy
store. Here we met many ex-pats from the UK, France and
Germany who are living in Japan and are brought together
by art and style. Trannies are a fundamental part of this
scene and their art is in their own presentation. Zil
took us on to meet many friends at a restaurant.
I was amazed at how much
of a celebrity I was made to feel - amongst people and
in a place that I was totally in awe of. Our next stop
was a ‘tranny bar’ one of many in one small area. We would
never have found these without help from Zil. The bar
we visited had a ‘mama san’ to welcome the customers and
a drag queen to entertain.
‘girls’ were as mixed a crowd as you would meet in any
Beaumont meeting. Unlike other Asians, Japanese trannies
often have unique physical features that they struggle
to feminize. However skillful, few feel they truly ‘pass’,
on home ground as on average, Japanese females are so
much shorter than males. What works for me in Japan as
an invisible westerner works in reverse for locals who
feel very easily recognized as trannies. The solution,
as anywhere, is to dress to impress and not to ‘pass’
which some, like Zil are proud to do. This type of bar
is very expensive (as any private bar in Tokyo tends to
be). However for local ‘girls’ they provide an oasis for
Zil completed the night
with a visit to the launch of the Tokyo LGBT film festival.
An event that brought a very cosmopolitan crowd together.
Zil said to me "tonight you have seen every queer in Tokyo".
I felt very at home and can’t thank Zil enough for such
a wonderful night.
friend Lisa was also a constant companion. Lisa is transsexual
and very feminine. She talks very good English with a
very soft sexy accent. The next day Lisa took us on a
trip through shops parks and bars that completed a wonderful
One area that Lisa introduced
me to, gave a rare glimpse of Tokyo as it was before the
almost total destruction of the city, by war time bombing.
This small street of two floor wooden buildings were used
by prostitutes before the war and this particular cluster
of buildings was famous for trangendered courtesans. I
could not help thinking how fate is strange - as I looked
at these rare survivors. The urban myth was proved true
- Here was the brothel that survived beside the cathedral
that was destroyed.
is the countries historical gem. Deliberately preserved
during war with no military targets there is ample evidence
of the ancient culture of Geisha, (Did you know that the
very first Geisha were boys), set amongst Buddhist temples
and Shinto shrines. In Kyoto it is possible to go much
further than just immersing yourself in the gardens, temples,
streets and history. It is possible (male or female) to
take Geisha classes and ‘dressing services’ are available
for Geisha makeovers. Every day, but particularly on Sundays,
girls enjoy ‘dressing’ in traditional Kimono and visiting
the temples and the gardens. They assume the walk and
the studied feminine gestures of a former time – a time
of even more extreme femininity than exists in Japan today.
What does that remind you of ?? Yes Trannying…
If you'd like the trip
of a lifetime I suggest going to Japan. It is unlike anything
I've ever experienced in my life and one I will cherish
for the rest of my life!
word of advice: PLEASE remember to take a phrase book
or dictionary as there are few who speak more than several
words in English. It might be a good idea to learn a few
words by heart to be courteous.
The Japanese are very polite
and will try to help you wherever you are going. Make
sure you have a reference point in the area you are staying
so you can find your way back home - all street names
& hotel names are in Japanese! Purchasing a copy of 'The
Rough Guide To Japan' is essential..
has too much to recommend but try to see these places.
Kabuki-za has been the city's principal
Kabuki theatre since its inauguration in 1889. If you
are a Kabuki fan this is THE place to go. All female roles
are played by onnagata - actors who specialise in female
roles. Shikan (onnagata) who performs one of Kabuki's
most famous and colourful dances Fuji Musume is considered
to be a National Treasure. Performances take place daily
during the first three weeks of the month and I can highly
recommend sitting through an entire performance. It is
an experience you will never forget. You may not want
to do this if you are pressed for time since they can
take up to 4 hrs or more... You can also go to the ticket
office about a half hour or so before showtime and buy
a ticket for one or several acts. This is also significantly
cheaper. Price for the entire performance is 10,000 -
16,000 Yen depending on your seats. You can also enjoy
the show in English, for an additional fee. Kabuki-za
Theatre (Ginza) Take the tube/subway to Higashi-Ginza.
The theatre is directly outside the station. Can't miss
it. For reservations or information call: +03-5565-6000
Harajuku and Shinjuku
are areas where you can literally shop untill you drop
for the latest in everything, etc. Mass amounts of people
are here night and day. Shibuya is department-store heaven,
if that's your thing. Shop, shop, shop & shop............
Tokyo I stayed at the Central Hotel Shinjuku
3-34-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku Phone: +03-3354-6611 Fax:
+03-3355-4245 It may take a while before you speak to
someone who actually speaks English and can help you with
your reservation. The location is excellent, 5 mns. walking
distance from Shinjuku Station. Price: 15,000 - 20,000
& TOKYO BY FREDERIKE DE JONGE
was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years,
Kyoto is endowed with an almost overwhelming legacy of
ancient Buddhist temples (more than 1600), majestic palaces
and gardens of every description, some of the country's
most important works of art, its richest culture and its
most refined cuisine.
First impressions of Kyoto
may be disappointing, however, if you stray off the tourist
track you will find the old glory; traditional wooden
houses, geisha in coloured silks, etc. This I highly recommend
of the ways to get to Kyoto from Tokyo is by JR-Shinkansen
(bullet train). This is not a cheap way to travel, but
it is the fastest way to get there. It all depends on
your budget and your schedule. Another way would be by
It would take weeks to
fit in all of the sights in Kyoto during your trip.....I've
listed a few I really enjoyed visiting....
temple (daily 9am-4.30pm),
south of Kyoto station, founded by Emperor Kammu in 794
contains some of Japan's finest Esoteric Buddhist sculpture.
Also the only temple with a five-storey pagoda (Japan's
largest, erected in 826 and last rebuilt in the mid 17th.
and Nijo-Jin'ya (8.45am-5pm), great palaces.
Nijo-Jin'ya tours are by appointment (phone at least a
day before: 075-841-0972) and in Japanese only. You need
to bring an interpreter if you don't speak Japanese. It
is definitely worth your while, this seemingly ordinary
house is riddled with trap doors, false walls, disguised
staircases, etc. to trap intruders.
the district of Gion you may find the odd
Geisha or Maiko girl (apprentice Geisha) in full attire
walking around. In this area you will also find a lot
of traditional wooden houses.
Kyoto is also known for
its festivals. The most famous feature grand costume parades,
esoteric ritual and elegant Geisha dances. They take place
in spring and autumn. These two seasons are positively
the best and busiest time to visit. The summer months
can be very uncomfortable with very high temperatures
and worse still humidity.
by Frederike de Jonge - Kabuki-Za Kabuki theatre
by Frederike de Jonge - buildings in the Gion (Geisha)
San, Zil and Lisa Vicky behind with the customers
of tranny bar in Shinjuku
pose outside Tokyo’s surviving wooden houses a 1930's
Market shops in Harajuku and Asakusa
shops in Harajuku and Asakusa.
Lee and Zil Femele centre Lesley behind Vicky
surrounded by freinds at Vivienes exhibition
Femele and freinds at Vivienes exhibition