Chairman of Toyo Kogyo (Asakusa French-za Engeijo Toyokan) Hisayuki Matsukura’s Asakusa Rokku Geinoden (10 times) ASAKUSA Kid ‘Fukami Senzaburo’
The focus of this episode is Fukami Senzaburo. … What? Never heard of him? That’s common.
He was a unique comedic genius, revered by all Asakusa comedians but averse to the limelight, shunning media exposure.
Think of him as the “Master who trained Takeshi Kitano.” This story aims to acquaint more people with the stylish life of “Fukami Senzaburo,” Takeshi Kitano’s mentor, who devoted his life to art and Asakusa.
◆A Genius Who Nurtured a Genius! The Phantom Asakusa Geinin and Mentor to Takeshi Kitano
Born in Hamatombetsu-cho, Hokkaido, in 1923 as Senzaburo FUKAMI (real name: Kubo 72), he moved to Tokyo in 1939 after elementary school, inspired by his older sister Someko (stage name: Michiyakko), a renowned geisha and singer in Asakusa.
After gaining various skills, he briefly returned home before starting a traveling theater company.
A munitions factory accident during the war cost him part of his left hand, marking a life of struggle and hardship.
Fukami returned to Asakusa in 1958, joining Toyo Kogyo. Rumors of a brilliant comedian named Fukami Senzaburo circulated, leading to his joining a rock band. Around this time, Asakusa Rokku’s entertainment scene faced challenges, and Fukami’s arrival at Rock Theater was a blessing.
His skills surpassed expectations – acting, singing, dancing, playing instruments, and even stylish tap dancing, coupled with sharp wit and unique humor. His small stature belied a larger-than-life presence and undeniable charisma.
His style? Always dressed impeccably, despite his unusual choice in white leather shoes. He was respected and eventually referred to as “shisho” (master) by comedians across Asakusa.
Fukami’s blunt demeanor, often marked by harsh words, concealed a tender, caring heart, winning him admiration.
When he performed, young comedians among the audience would eagerly observe. Those who witnessed his genius in Asakusa were indeed fortunate. Despite offers, Fukami steadfastly refused TV appearances, partly due to his hand injury but mainly to maintain his Asakusa comedian pride.
He viewed Asakusa as a bastion of tradition, a sanctuary for artists. While others like Hachiro HIGASHI, Jiro Kaneko (Beat Kiyoshi), Isamu Nagato, and Kinichi Hagimoto moved to television, Fukami remained loyal to his roots.
In 1971, Toyo Kogyo withdrew from Rock Theater management, and Fukami took over the new Franco-za at Asakusa Engei Hall, balancing roles as president, entertainer, and teacher.
His managerial talents were less known, but he met expectations with grace. His life’s final and most cherished protégé was a young man who would become a significant figure in his life: Takeshi Kitano.
This encounter brought Fukami a sense of peace and happiness, reminiscent of his earlier days. Even after the revival of the French Theater, Fukami continued to inspire.
A young man in his mid-twenties, Takeshi Kitano, an elevator operator at the theater, formed a pivotal connection with Fukami – a fateful meeting that would leave an indelible mark on both their lives.