Fukushima Troupe 1900 – 1902

12 performers – six men and six women

1900 December – February 1901- Fukushima Troupe of Royal Japanese artists appear at the Alhambra, London. Gaily attired in very pretty Jap costumes, perform some thrilling feats of rope climbing, one of the ladies does a slide for life.

But the most bizarre and the most picturesque of these performances is that of the Fukushima Royal Japanese Troupe. In their many-coloured costumes with their curious faces like old ivory and eyes sparkling like black brilliants, their mere appearance would form an attraction. Two of their number, however, are really wonderful performers, and their feats have the additional charm of novelty.

One of these, a youth, appears with a long, thick, flexible rope which is at first partly coiled round his body. At each end in a sort of loop are loosely inserted two shallow open metal basins filled with water. Standing in the centre of the stage, he commences gently to swing these basins round and round his body with ever-lengthening rope ; then, as though wearied with so easy a task, he draws in rope and swings them now over one shoulder, now over another; then, raising a foot, he sends the metal pans flying between his legs, over his head, to right, to left, and again lengthening the rope to its utmost extent, he accelerates the motion until the two vessels are flying round and round so fast that one can hardly follow with the eye the course of either. Finally, he again draws in his rope, and, with a few graceful and declining rotatory motions, the vessels are at his feet. Not a drop of water has been spilt.

The other performance which interested me is that of a lady among the troupe. With a fan in one hand and a mirror in the other she simply walks up a rope attached to a hook in the stage and a hook in the woodwork of the theatre, somewhere about the base of the topmost box. As she passes upward above one’s head one notices a development of the great toe which would be quite abnormal in a European. With ‘this she clasps and encloses the rope, feeling probably quite secure on what seems to us so perilous a journey. I should doubt if this performance were possible without these prehensile toes. I believe that such a development is common among the Japanese and other far-Eastern nations, who use the toes of the feet almost interchangeably with the fingers of the hands. The descent of this lady from her lofty coign of vantage, fanning herself in gentle unconcern as she speeds erect down the rope, is a joy to behold. (Truth February 7th 1901)

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News February 1901

1902 May – Advertised as the Foo Choo Shimas