Throughout my time in Tokyo and the surrounding area, I have noticed a large amount of parks and open public spaces. I have mentioned a few of these spaces in previous posts, such as the large sports fields or parks for relaxation and Sakura viewing. Another common use for open, public space in the city is for authorized street performances. These types of acts range from amateur musicians to daredevil stunts involving fire. You never quite know what sort of performance you will see in the middle of a big open space, such as the center of Ueno Park.
While in Minatomirai, Yokohama this past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing an amazing Daidogei performance outside of the Yokohama Museum of Art, near the Minatomirai Train Station. Daidogei is a large movement, featuring hundreds of performers performing a wide range of activities, from magic to acrobatics. This special event, labeled “Yokohama Street Performance 2014,” was held throughout the weekend at various locations within Yokohama. Advertisements were displayed everywhere, and the events drew large crowds.
The particular performance I saw involved a group of acrobats, led by American magician and ringleader David Ramsay, who spoke Japanese very articulately. The opening act of the hour-long performance consisted of some magic tricks by the ringleader.
From there, acrobat Daisuke Nakata performed some amazing spinning moves on a large, metal wheel.
The central attraction of the show seemed to be Takaniiei, a muscular performer who performed quite a few daredevil poses and stunts atop towers of wobbly chairs.
The performance expanded beyond mere acrobatic tricks. Different songs played in the background throughout to emphasize various emotions in response to the current act. Takaniiei’s struggle to reach the top of the pyramid of chairs, for instance, relied heavily on the assistance of fellow acrobat and muscleman Setoda Eiji. An intense, passionate tune emphasized Takaniiei’s difficult climb. Although these melodramatic performances were rather obviously staged, they made the show that much more entertaining, and encouraged participation and emotional response from the audience.
Following a lovely performance from the troupe’s pole dancer Ayaka, the ringleader returned to center stage for a silly juggling performance while riding a unicycle.
The show concluded with a segment involving two acrobats performing various tricks on a trampoline, such as jumping rope.
The performance also relied heavily on comedy, with Eiji’s trademark jumprope act purposely tying the performer in knots. In petitioning the audience for donations, the ringleader suggested holding onto a 1000 yen bill and donating your remaining wallet (as opposed to the opposite).
The use of humor and acting made this Daidogei show the most entertaining performance I have seen to date during my time in Japan. It was so enjoyable that I returned the following day to watch more.