This silver week, I felt the urge to indulge my inner child and I promptly went to the circus! Together with my soroban classmates I went to the early afternoon performance of Kinoshita Circus on Monday, and because of the holiday, we got probably the last seats at the front side of the arena. Kinoshita Circus has been around for 113 years now, and I have read that it is one of the world’s three largest circuses.

I really enjoyed the experience, there were lots and lots of acts, mostly acrobats of one sort or the other, and the pace, especially in the first hour, was very fast, with subsequent acts almost blending into one another. There were acrobats balancing on a bamboo pole or a tower made with chairs; trapeze artists and performers hanging from the ceiling on long strips of cloth; jugglers and dainty ballerinas, magicians, and a troupe of motorcyclists driving circles in a not overly large metal globe. Almost all of the artists working above the arena were secured with ropes – and the trapeze troupe used the traditional net – except for the two guys on the wheel of death, which had me gasping for air several times. Check out the images at the circus’ homepage to get an idea – I did not bring my camera, but it was not allowed to take pictures anyway.

Of course, there were acts involving animals, and I am always quite ambivalent about them. On the one hand, I enjoy seeing the animals, but on the other hand, it is obviously impossible to provide them with the environment they require while they are on tour. I was glad that three of the four acts were very short, probably less than five minutes each. The poor elephant had to do a handstand and carry his trainers on his back, but the zebras and the giraffe – which was fed with bananas by selected audience members – were only circling the arena twice before they could leave again.

The second hour of the show started with the main act: Eight white lions, two of them male. I love cats, especially the big ones, but as I said, I also feel sad for them. The act was nothing special, and to me it would not have made a difference at all if they had not shown any animals at all. However, a large part of the audience were small children (I think we were the only group of adults-only there) and it may have a different impact on them.

We did not rush out immediately after the show with the rest of the audience, and we thus had the opportunity to talk to the clowns. What I had already noticed with quite some surprise during the show, they now confirmed: There were lots of foreign artists, they themselves were Americans, but all of the Asians were Japanese. I guess that the ratio was maybe half-half, and I thought that this sounds like a very cool idea to get a working visa for Japan. I wonder – if my company idea does not really work out – whether I can still take up juggling or so? On second thought, nah, I’d probably make a better clown…