One great point about cities is a chance to see street performers. While in Europe, I always thought that it is almost impossible to have a walk around the city without seeing at least one street performer, usually singing, sometimes dancing and doing some acrobatics or juggling. In Japan, street performers are less in number, but somehow I feel that the average level is higher. Every street performance I saw in Japan was great. And Sendai is not an exception.
On weekends, while shopping in the Arcades, you can spot some people doing juggling, acrobatics and other amazing things that normally can be seen in circus. It may seem like they have been performing here for years and years, but actually Sendai tradition of street performance started in 2015, when guys from Machikuru Performers Sendai まちくるパフォーマーズ仙台 decided to create a space for street performers in Sendai. The first performance went very well, as people reacted cheerfully, and it was decided to start auditioning of artists who shall perform in Sendai from now on.
Here is something you need to know - every performer receives a license. It is not easy to obtain this license - first a performer sends a DVD with recorded performance, and if (s)he is good enough, the next stage is a live examination. Hence the high level of performers.
The performance usually takes place in Arcades, but in warm seasons the performers show their skills in Asaichi as well. And you can see them on some special events, like Pageant of Starlight.
We decided to ask several of the performers about their path to their profession and their impression of Sendai.
Montakun, a juggling artist, has been performing for 15 years. His show that combines juggling with comic speech has won the hearts of the audience. “I wanted to become a juggler since I saw a performance for the first time. I understood that this is what I want to do in life”, says Montakun. He started in Tokyo, where he met his wife Hana, who is from Sendai. Right now the pair performs in Sendai, together and separately. “ Sendai is good in response”, says Montakun, “probably because people don’t have a lot of chances to see street performers, so they always stop to watch when we perform.”
Hana, street dancer and acrobat, was doing acrobatics since school. She was performing in Disneyland, but eventually chose to return to Sendai and start her independent career. “Sendai is the best”, she says, “People respond very friendly, and I have one more bonus - I often meet my classmates and acquaintances while performing, and I feel their support, too.”
The pair has some great plans for future. “In Tokyo people are usually doing only one thing”, says Hana, “jugglers do only juggling, acrobats - only acrobatics, but we want to try many other things - living statues, still towing. Everything we can!”
Other pair of performers are Sakamoto twins.
They have performed for more than 15 years together. While in junior school, they started practicing with yo-yo,and soon their unique skills, together with a synchronised show that is possible only for identical twins became famous. First performed in their hometown, Iwaki, in Fukushima, now they perform in Sendai as well, and next year they are going to perform in Ibaraki. “Comparing with Iwaki, Sendai is very crowded, so we have to try hard to make people stop for a performance”, they say, both smiling simultaneously.
Right now, they are practicing hard to win Japan National Yo-yo contest, and I am pretty sure they are going to make it!
While you are out there, roaming the streets of Sendai, look for a big crowd gathered around one or two persons. It is worth stopping and spending some magical ten or fifteen minutes in a world of street performance!
You can check the schedule and read more about the performers here (unfortunately, only in Japanese):
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