Japanese Magic Tezuma
These days, when I hear the word “magic” I immediately think of death-defying stunts, mentalists and hypnotists,
or large-scale technical illusions. As a child this wasn’t so, as I had grown up watching more simple, humble performances where you can approach the magician and scrutinise their work, and yet still be amazed. Indeed, in Britain’s town squares and promenades you can still find people performing close-up magic as a means of busking, but it is not something you would make a conscious effort to go and see. In recent years the paying western audience seems to have acquired a taste for more shocking and extravagant magic (or magic you can be amazed by even through the television).
I was excited to re-live the experience of magic I had enjoyed as a child.For that reason, when I was invited to watch a traditional Japanese magic show, “Tezuma,” in an intimate performance space with only few spectators and even fewer performers, I was not only interested to go and learn something new about Japanese culture, I was excited to re-live the experience of magic I had enjoyed as a child.
The performance space is a newly built Japanese-style room, upon which much care and attention has clearly been lavished.In particular the decoration, which is beautiful without being distracting, and the lighting, which highlights the stage area without casting the audience into gloom, was impressive. At first glance the room seemed too small for the audience, but as long as you can bear to kneel on the floor (or arrange your legs in a similar fashion) for an hour, it is in fact the perfect size for the audience to feel like one large group of friends who have attended together, and for everyone to sit in close proximity to the stage.
During the showDuring the show, the performance of magic itself was broken up into segments, and between the segments were shamisen recitals, short talks about the history of magic in Japan, and a tutorial for the audience to learn simple magic tricks. Thanks to this structure the audience members were never left bored or unattended, for instance the shamisen player would perform while the magician prepared the equipment for his next trick, and personally I never looked at my watch once, a sure sign of a good show.
The talks on Japanese magic were not only fascinating; they were also a chance for the audience to glimpse the true personality of the magician, and come to understand and respect his choice to perform this centuries-old art. As a result the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and everyone could leave feeling like a “participant” rather than a mere “spectator.”
It was a pleasure to attend.And as for the magic itself, it delivered exactly what one would want from an intimate performance such as this: simple yet unfathomable tricks, audience participation, cheesy jokes that were still funny, and a gradual increase in pace and difficulty that created a crescendo of gasps and applause from the audience and resulted in an extremely impressive and satisfying conclusion to the show. Also, thanks to the visual nature of the performance and the use of an interpreter and written materials, it was something anyone could enjoy and feel a part of, regardless of nationality or language ability. It is clear that much effort has been dedicated to the audience here, in particular the international audience. It can be seen from the contents of the show, down to details such as the creation of the performance space. It was a pleasure to attend.
Japanese traditional magic. The “dancing paper butterfly” is the most famous part of the performance.
A new event space furnished with tatami mats that opened in Nihombashi COREDO Muromachi 3 in March 2014.