[Kichijoji Town Walk Treasure Hunt] [Amusement Activities] Edition
What do you imagine when you hear Kichijoji? Despite the fact that the area around the station is built up with many large-scale commercial centers, department stores, and shopping malls, this is also a community with individually-owned shops and shopping alleys with local roots that are tied closely with the lives of residents, with a different appeal from Shibuya or Shinjuku. Recently it seems that many foreign visitors have now come to enjoy this warm and friendly town, and are visiting in droves.
We set out with reporter Danny in search of the deeply spots of Kichijoji and tried our hand at some “amusement activities”.
Serving as our reporter that day was Danny. Half-Brazilian and half-Japanese, Danny speaks fluent Japanese, Portuguese, and English, making her trilingual! We’ve come together with her to experience all the entertainment and amusement Kichijoji has to offer.
“I’m really looking forward to this! Let’s go!”
Experience a Sword Fight That Lets You Feel Like a Samurai (Megumi Theater Company’s SAMURAI FIGHT)
When foreigners hear the word “Japan”, images from period dramas pop into most people heads. If you want to try your hand at sword fighting just like in those dramas, please come here! This sword fighting activity is hosted by the Megumi Theater Company, a theater that puts on mostly period plays.
That is why we’ve come here, to Megumi Studios, just 10 minutes on foot from Kichijoji Station.
This is actually Danny’s first time as a samurai.
“I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m also a little nervous because I have no idea what we’re going to do.”
When we enter the activity area, the cast is already dressed as samurai, waiting on standby.
“Thank you for coming today! Today, your partners will be Yukihiro Ishihara, Takashi Sugawara, and Kazuki Akimoto (*from right to left in the photograph).”
These three are of course actors of the Megumi Theater Company. They always play samurai on stage, so sword fighting and acting like samurai is in their wheelhouse!
Incidentally, the sword fighting scene they will re-enact is based on a scene from a play Megumi Theater Company has actually performed. The situation and meaning of the theme is explained in English on the whiteboard.
Today’s scene is from a play based on the samurai Izo Okada. We’re looking forward to it!
First, the actors show us a model of the scene that we will be re-enacting. Akimoto, on the left, plays the role of Izo Okada. Sugawara on the right plays the role of Takechi Hanpeita. This scene is a showdown between master and disciple.
After they model the scene for us, it’s our turn. One of the great parts about this activity is that they prepare the costumes for us. Danny has already changed into her kimono.
They teach us how to handle the sword, but unsheathing is harder than you might think when you aren’t used to it.
“The sword was longer than I expected, and it was really hard to unsheathe it.”
We are also taught choreography for how to move. Danny will play the role of Takechi. It’s a simple scene that only lasts a few minutes, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
And action! First, Takechi, played by Danny, appears where Akimoto, in the role of Izo, was standing, with her umbrella out.
Then, we enter the long-awaited sword fighting scene. Despite this being her first time, Danny plays the role rather well, and performs the scene where they cross swords countless times rather well.
Then comes the climax scene, where they both kill each other simultaneously and collapse to the ground… Danny’s incandescent performance explodes.
With this, the performance comes to an end. Now, you’ll probably want to take video of your performance. Don’t worry, this activity program has you covered!
As you can see (in the photograph below), they will lend you a tripod designed to hold smart phones, so that you can film yourself on your phone even if you’re alone. What a delightful service!
We then watch the video we shot and share our thoughts, and with this, the activity is over. In total, it took about an hour. Just watching it was plenty of fun, but how was it for you, Danny?
“I had so much fun! It was of course my first time, but I think I might be hooked. This program was designed so that foreigners could easily participate as well, a fact I really felt when I tried it myself. I really recommend this to anyone interested in Japanese history and culture!”
Megumi Theater Company’s SAMURAI FIGHT Hands-On Samurai Experience
Time: 60 minutes
Place: Megumi Studios
Enjoy a Spectacular Entertainment Show! (Circus Café)
Next, we head off to experience a super entertainment show in Kichijoji!
The name of the place is Circus Café. Unlike the old-fashioned circuses with clowns people think of when they hear the word “circus”, Circus Café lets you enjoy a more modern form of entertainment.
“Since it’s a circus, maybe it will have a trapeze? But looking at the costumes and other visuals, maybe it’s more like a Las Vegas show?”
When we enter Circus Café, we are immediately greeted by the owner and main cast member Toru Honjo (pictured above second from the right). Once we get to our seats, we are greeted not only by Toru, but all of the other cast members who will be appearing in today’s performance as well!
One of the appeals of Circus Café is its cozy atmosphere, where you can interact with the performers up close. Danny, who’d been a little nervous, has already opened her heart and is in high spirits with the entire cast!
You can of course also enjoy food and alcoholic beverages here as well. While the course is recommended, you can also order a la carte, and this time we ordered pizza and a chorizo platter.
Toru tells us, “Today, you’re going to watch a show unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, so be looking forward to that!” Oh, boy! What kind of show are they going to perform for us? At last, the long awaited show begins!
The show opens with a formal top hat.
Toru appears on stage. Appearing in TV and stage in a wide variety of capacities, owner Toru’s performance is of course striking, but not only that, he interacts with his viewers.
Then, when the song changes, so does the costume and performance style. While the show centers on dance performance, it also emphasizes communication with customers! That’s right, since the audience sits near the stage, surrounding it in 360-degree, the performance brims with a sense of presence.
“Amazing, just amazing! It’s breath-takingly powerful!”
Danny seems to be really into it.
Now, for the highlight of the show. The powerful staging in revealing costumes is, in a word, stunning. The cast are all carefully selected dancers, actors, and performers working as professionals. That goes without saying.
Then, the show transforms into something like traditional theater, with the performers dressed in Japanese costume. This part is based on Abe no Seimei, an Onmyoji (Yin-Yang Master), and serves as a moment for Toru and the rest of the cast to demonstrate their rich power of expression.
Before we knew it, it was time for the final number. In the group choreography corner where we received a lecture prior to the performance, Danny had a good time trying out the choreography. The final performance features an acrobatic performance, hence the name Circus.
Aerial Hoop, a performance in which the performances dangle from hoops hanging from the ceiling, was astounding. With this exciting climax, the show finishes. Many of their other performances also feature exciting acrobatics. For example...
This powerful “Aerial Silk”,
where two performers do acrobatics using aerial silks. Then...
The Aerial Hoop show we just saw is also done by two performers! This is the true essence of what a circus aerobatic performance should be!
Let’s introduce the cast who blew us away with this spectacular show!
First is Ena, a highly skilled dancer whose sexy powers of expression were incredible.
Then there is Yuto, who has been working as an actor ever since he was a child.
Next is Marie, a mood-maker boasting a rich career as a performer.
And last but not least is Toru Honjo, the owner of Circus Cafe!
What a wonderful performance! How incredible to see such a grand show in a café that isn’t particularly big! What did you think, Danny?
“I really have no words to express my awe! I’ve never been moved like this before. I will definitely come again.”
Danny seems to have enjoyed it even more than we thought she would. We understand! It was, after all, an amazing show. 40 minutes really went by fast.
How was Circus Cafe?
All performers are double cast, so each performance on each day of the week is unique! The café opens at 6:00 PM, and 30 to 40 minute shows are held twice a day. For food, there are several courses available, so choose whichever one you like. Also, be aware that you will need to make a reservation. Call or use the email form at the link below to make your reservation.
Wow, what a wonderful experience! Let’s head to another place to cool ourselves down a bit. There’s a place I recommend!
Experience the World of the Movie Cocktail! The Flame Show is a Must-See! (FLAIR & DINER S-PARK)
The last place we’ll introduce is FLAIR & DINER S-PARK, where you can enjoy a cocktail show just like the movie Cocktail starring Tom Cruise.
What was famous about he movie Cocktail was that performance by Tom Cruise. That’s right, the way he shook the bottles and shakers, then tossed them in the air for an acrobatic performance while making cocktails is what is called flair bartending. All of this can be enjoyed just a one-minute walk from Kichijoji station!
Now then, once we enter the store, the man immediately starts spinning a bottle...
This is S-PARK’s main bartender, Sei. Not only he is skilled in the art of bartending, but in the art of conversation as well. He immediately surprises Danny, who is seated at the counter, with his skills, then chats with her and makes her laugh.
“All right, what can I get for you?” asks Sei.
“Um, how about that Magenta with the cute colors? (a cocktail made with blood orange)”
“Right away!” says Sei,
then immediately starts a flair bartending performance right before our eyes. Here, you can enjoy this acrobatic performance from just about a meter away.
“Here you are,” says Sei.
This very cool-looking drink is complete! If you order a cocktail, you can see this performance. However, for those who want to enjoy flair bartending even more, we recommend the dynamic cocktail show with loud music performed by two bartenders!
*Cocktail show generally requires a reservation.
All right, let’s call out a performer to do the cocktail show with Sei!
This is his partner Koba! He’s a soothingly handsome man.
Ladies and gentlemen! We now present the S-PARK Specialty Cocktail Show!
First, they put a little light choreography to a hit song popular at that time...
Then the two line up and start spinning bottles! Pictures cannot convey their extraordinary performance that comes from perfect synchronization. You’ll definitely want to see their performance live for yourself.
Wow, it was so cool! The perfect way they lift and spin the bottles. Speaking of which, in the movie Cocktail, Tom Cruise also had a bartending partner. Their perfectly synchronized performance is what really gets people pumped. Next, Sei performs for us his signature trick!
Look at these flames! You can apparently do this if you set fire to strong liquor, but either way, it’s incredible! You were surprised too, weren’t you Danny, since they did it right in front of you!
“I was in open‐eyed astonishment ! The flames were bigger than I thought they’d be, and I could feel the heat coming from them. It was really amazing! This is a must-see.”
Besides this, we had a good time helping them make cocktails and receiving lectures on performance.
Our instructor is Kuni, who used to serve as a bartender with Sei but is now in charge of food.
Incidentally, this bar boasts good food, most popular among these being the hamburger, which Danny also chose! Gourmands won’t be able to get enough of this hamburger, which lets you customize everything from the patty, the toppings, and the sauce.
There are of course many other delicious items on the menu as well!
Especially good is this beer can chicken, a spectacular kind of barbecue originating in the US in which a whole chicken is stuffed with an open can of beer (with the beer inside!) and cooked in an oven.
They also have a wide variety of other menu items,
such as winter-only oysters and cobb salad.
This bar, with its spacious interiors modeled after an American diner, its cocktail shows, and its wide variety of food make it perfect for an exciting party.
What a good time! Danny, you seemed to be excited the entire time.
“I was having so much fun, I forgot about time entirely! Bars like this are pretty rare in Japan, so I recommend it for Japanese people as well as foreigners!”
What do you think?
Kichijoji actually has a fairly rich entertainment culture. All of these are surprisingly high-level entertainment that you can enjoy from the bottom of your heart. Yet they have a certain coziness that you can only find in Kichijoji.
“Everyone at the places we visited today was really warm and kind, and I was able to really enjoy these experiences. All of these are places I want to visit again in my private life! Please experience these activities for yourself!” says Danny.
*Prices listed in the text are as of May 2019.