Takeshi Kitano, an internationally known director and actor, recently revisited the place where he began his career as a comedian around 40 years ago, a strip theater called Asakusa France-za, in downtown Tokyo.

"I was often chewed out by the strippers because the water I prepared for their bathing shows was too hot," Kitano, 68, recalled.

Hisayuki Matsukura, 79, the owner of the theater, which has since become vaudeville house Toyo-kan, greeted Kitano. "I didn't expect you to become this famous."