About Me

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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Santa doing magic ・ サンタがマジックをやっている

In Japan, people do not really celebrate Christmas. It is however a day when traditionally couples go to some fancy restaurant, or at least you have to go on a date. I was in our magic bar the whole evening (actually every day from December 22 to 25; 23rd is a holiday (the emperor's birthday) and 25th we were open despite it being a Sunday just because quite a few couples wanted to come) but I do not have anyone to date anyway, so that was OK.


The other two magicians both did their magic dressed as Santas. No pockets meant it was difficult to bring your stuff with you to the tables etc., and the suits were very hot.

We also had another couple where the guy proposed to his girlfriend in our magic bar. This time too, the girl said yes. A very cute couple.



Monday, December 19, 2011

The English native speaker "Dr Hato" ・ 英語のネイティブのドクター鳩

On Sunday I did a volunteer magic show for over 100 kids (and over 40 grownups). The English conversation school ECC had a Christmas party at the Toyohira Kumin Center. There is a huge stage there that was quite nice to use.


I showed up early to the party (my show was the final point in the programme) and played with the kids for two hours before doing the magic show. I was introduced as a native speaker of English (which was a surprise to me, haha) and as "Dr Hato". That is my user ID and mail address for many of my digital accounts, since I am a doctor (Ph.D. in computer science) and since Jonas comes from the Hebrew word for dove (as in the symbol of peace) and that would be "hato" in Japanese. It is not really a name I use when talking to people though, but they asked if they could introduce me like that and I said fine.


I did a 15 minute show for the kids and despite the angles being quite severe (people where mainly in front, but there were people behind, and to both sides as well, and some were looking more or less from underneath...) everything went well. The kids seemed very happy.


After the show, a girl of about five years came up to me and scolded me though. She said, "So you can speak Japanese! If you can speak Japanese, why didn't you talk to me in Japanese from the start?!"... :-) Well, I had been asked to speak English to all the kids since it was an English conversation practice thingy that held the party. Doing magic in English is difficult for me since I am not used to it, and impossible for the kids to follow along with anyway, so the magic show I did all in Japanese. The girl thought that for communication purposes it would be better to chose a language where we both are fluent enough to understand each other :-)


The end of an era ・ 手品卒業

Me in the cold winter Sapporo.
After our big stage magic show with the university magic club, there was a lot of clean up to do, but after that there was also a party. Every year, you have to make a promise ("I will not spill a single drop of juice from the glass of juice that I am going to make disappear") and if you cannot fulfil that promise you have to do something unpleasant ("I will eat the spiciest food they serve at the spiciest Indian restaurant in town").


This year it seemed this tradition had been removed, but I though my performance did not really live up to expectations so I decided to punish myself with my chosen punishment from last year (when everything went fine and I did not have to do anything). Traditionally, all the last year magicians (this is my last year) have to promise that they will be the number one performer of the year (which of course means most last year magicians cannot fulfil their promise...) So I spent the party (well, parties) and time between the parties wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Since Sapporo is fairly cold this time of year (minus 5 degrees Celsius on the night in question) I also put on a muffler.


The place where I spent two hours in shorts and a t-shirt (notice other people wearing jackets and coats since there are no walls, only plastic film...)
When we were waiting at the subway station (I got there by walking, but everyone was to gather at the subway station) for some people who were late, one of the other guys asked me: "What is up with your clothing?!". At the same time, he adjusted his own muffler, which I took as a sign that he wondered why I had a muffler. I answered: "I thought it was is a bit cold today, so I put on a muffler". Another guy standing next to us thought that was hysterically funny, so when other people came up and asked things like "What the hell is wrong with Jonas?" he would jump in and say "Ah, Jonas thinks it is cold outside today so he put on a muffler". One of the few times irony has been appreciated in Japan :-)


I chose a seat next to the gas burner.
Speaking of irony, it turned out that unlike last year when we were in a very hot restaurant, this year our party took place on top of the Norubesa building. On top, and not inside. There were plastic film making something like walls so it was at least no windy, but it was cold. The other people in general kept their coats and jackets on... This came as quite a(n unpleasant) surprise to me :-) I found a chair close to the gas burner keeping the staff vaguely warm, and sat there.


Flowers and a present.
In the magic club of our university you graduate after three years. This was my third year, so I was one of the people getting kicked out. At this final big party, we were all given flowers and a small present. The present turned out to be a small towel that when rolled up in a nice way looks like a piece of strawberry cake.


The 40th Magic Festival ・ 2011年12月17日「第40回Magic Festival」

The magicians that were on stage this year.
On December 17, the magic club of the university (which I am a member of) had its yearly big stage magic show. This year it was the 40th time for this event, which is called the "Magic Festival". We rented the Sapporo Kyouiku Bunka Kaikan, which has a nice stage, with lighting, sound, curtains etc.

2011年12月17日に北大奇術研究会(僕が入っている部活のマジッククラブ)の大きなステージマジックショーがあった。今年第40回目の「Magic Festival」だった。札幌の教育文化会館を借りて、ちゃんとしたステージでやった。

This is what pictures from my camera look like now...
Sadly, my camera decided that this was a good day to die, so I could take approximately 0 pictures back stage... It made a short recovery for two minutes, so I did get a few pictures of things I was not that interested in, but now I am using my super old camera until I have time to go buy a new one. Other people took pictures, though, so I will try to get their pictures later. And the whole thing was recorded with video cameras too, so I will put up a movie of my performance when those guys get finished with processing the videos.


Magicians waiting back stage, when my camera was still working.
The show started at 13:00 and went on for two hours with a short 10 minutes break. We had been working since 8:30 with preparations, though, and I had to do some stuff for my own performance too so I had been up since 6:30.


This year, the whole hall was sold out, so it was packed with people. I am told. When I was on stage, I had a very strong spotlight on me and no light on the audience, so I could not see anything at all.


Me producing lots of balls from a flower pot.
My performance went so-so. Several things could have been performed better, but the audience seemed happy enough. Every year there is a questionnaire where the audience members can vote on which performance they liked best. Last year the juggling group were number 1, the MCs where number 2, and I was number 3. This year I only made it to number 5 (of 18), but that is not bad I guess.


And some more balls.
I performed a routine from Tom Stone's book "Vortex". I like it a lot myself, though there is quite a lot of work for me to do before the performance even starts. People who came up to me later during the night said they liked it too but thought it was too short. They wanted to see more (this year everyone had been told to make their performances short, since there are too many active members, but not so many other people actually did...).

僕がTom Stoneの「Vortex」という本に載っているネタをやった。自分で見た時に大好きなネタだ。準備が結構大変だけど。ショーの後で話してくれた人がだいたい面白いと言ってくれたが「短かったね!」とか「早く終わっちゃったね」と言われた。もっと見たかったそうだ。今年演者が多すぎて、皆自分のパフォーマンスを短くして下さいと言われたからだったけど(他の人があまりしていなかったみたい、笑)。

Apart from me, there were about 30 other magicians that performed all kinds of magic. There were illusions; flowers, CD:s, balls, parasolls, etc. being produced; juggling; rope tricks, and much more.


I will be back with more pictures and a movie clip when I get my hands on them.


Friday, December 16, 2011

A girl from Hong Kong ・ 香港からの女の子

Yesterday it was Thursday, so not a day that I would normally be doing magic in our magic bar. It so happened that one of the other magicians were away doing magic in a restaurant and I helped out while he was away. With excellent timing, the bondswoman for my apartment called me and asked if I was working. I said that I did indeed happen to be working. So she came to our magic bar together with a friend from Hong Kong. They went to college together in the U.S.


So I ended up doing magic in English for them. I rarely do magic in English so it is a bit awkward. My English is much better than my Japanese, but since I always speak Japanese during magic, I do not know what to say when speaking English or even Swedish...


Later, two other friends showed up (separately) and I had a great time. One of them took a strange picture of me.


Another fun part was when another magician picked up a deck of cards and claimed that he could just by touch take a stack of cards with exactly the number of cards anyone else specified, as long as the number was around 10 cards or so. And indeed he can. I said I can do that with any number of cards, perfect every time. And I did do it about 7 or 8 times. My magician colleague kept saying "kitanai!" the whole time though, haha. That is Japanese for "dirty", here in the sense that your personality is dirty. He thought I was cheating.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Funny magic clip: David Williamson

I like David Williamson. He has a kind of bizarre humor that fits me very well. Here is a clip with him doing a card trick together with a Swedish woman. He also manages to be rude to all things Swedish :-)

David Williamsonというマジシャンが大好きだ。いかれたユーモアで、僕の好きな喋りなんだ。この動画ではスウェーデン人の女の人とカードマジックをやっている。スウェーデン人に関しての色々な失礼なことも言っちゃうし、笑。

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An American called Ben? ・ ベンというアメリカ人?

I have managed to book plane tickets to go to Saitama (near Tokyo) for New Years. My brother is coming to Saitama with his girlfriend. I got an e-mail saying that it would be good if I was still in Saitama on January 2, since then some of his girlfriend's friends are coming over and they want to see some magic. It also said, "By the way, she has told them that you are an American magician named Ben." It did not say why she would do such a thing...


Recent stuff ・ 最近の出来事

Recently I am very busy with work, and somewhat busy with rehearsals for our Christmas show (December 17). Apart from the rehearsals, not so much is happening on the magic side so the blog is kind of at a standstill. I bought a new Tenyo "The Third Eye" as a backup for when the one that people keep dropping all the time stops working.

At the rehearsals last week, I managed to fail spectacularly both times. The first time I managed to pretend to put something in my right hand (that would later disappear) but forgot to close the right hand so it was pretty obvious that there was nothing there... At the next rehearsal, which took place at a real stage with curtains, lights, and everything, I managed to not notice that my bag with all the things I was going to use during the trick had disappeared into the table somewhere while the table was being carried out onto the stage, so things did not start out great. Reaching down with the left hand to retrieve something when no one was looking, I suddenly realized that there was nothing there to retrieve... I also managed to forget the order of things that I was supposed to do, and forgot to grab my final load at the appropriate time. All in all, two funny disasters.

In our magic bar, one guy proposed to his girlfriend with support by magic during the weekend. That was a first, I think. It went well.




Monday, November 28, 2011

A show I want to see ・ 見たいショー

When I was at Magic Bar Stockholm last week, they had fliers for this show. I linked to some clips with Brynolf & Ljung in a couple of previous blog posts, and I would love to see them live. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be touring Japan in the near future, and even when I am in Sweden I rarely have any free time...

先週スウェーデンに行っていた時に、マジックバーに行ったらこういうチラシが置いてあった。Brynolf & Ljungの動画が前にブログに載せた。生で見たいなぁ。残念ながら、日本に来なさそうだよね、笑。僕がスウェーデンに行く時にも暇な時間がほとんどないし。

Friday, November 18, 2011

Magic bar review: Magic Bar Joker ・ マジックバージョーカー

My friend U-san, the master, me, and the young magician.
In April 2011 I went to the magic bar "Joker" with a magician friend from Sapporo. We entered right at the opening time, and we were the only customers at that early hour. The bar is quite small, with mainly a small counter that we sat at. Joker is the most expensive magic bar I have been to so far, with 7000 yen for one hour (Half Moon, that I wrote about before (and coincidentally lies 23 seconds walk away from Joker), costs 8000 yen but for a longer show). It includes unlimited drinks, and more or less unlimited snacks like peanuts, chocolate, etc. The snacks included strawberries, and were quite impressive.


Snacks included in the price (free refills!) and a fork that ended up looking weird.
First, a young magician did a fairly long performance for us. He was very good and also very funny. My friends 1000 yen bill ended up inside a green pepper fruit for instance. He also produced lots of strange things like rubber corn out of our armpits. The funniest thing was when he produced lots of things out of a coin purse that was just the metal frame (so it would seem to contain nothing), and a small very fancy looking bottle appeared. We marveled at this beautiful bottle, probably containing Champagne. He said: "Actually, it is a bottle of body soap which just looks like an expensive bottle of Champagne". Which was true. While we marveled at the genius of designing a bottle of shower gel to look like expensive Champagne, another bottle also appeared out of the purse frame without us noticing it. That first bottle was quite possibly the funniest thing I have seen produced by magic. 


Not only was the magician quite skilled (though he flashed from time to time during the coin magic), he was also very funny to talk to. He did lots of coin and card magic and bent a fork. I also liked a trick where a cut open card box (very 2D) turned into a 3D card box actually containing a full deck of cards. Probably very angle sensitive, but still funny. 


Other things we received: an unopened PET-bottle with my signature, a card signed by my friend cut out from a lemon, the owners business card, a photo taken when we did not notice.
Then the master/owner of the bar also did a fairly long performance for us. He did an unbelievable number of tricks that could all be closing tricks in any magic bar. My friends 50 yen coin ended up in a glass bottle after being signed (switching a signed coin was impressive) despite being too large to insert; a crushed and empty can of Coca Cola was returned to unopened and full status by magic; a signed card ended up in an unopened PET-bottle, another signed card ended up inside a lemon; and more. He was good, though sometimes you could see for instance his break when doing the ambitious card with an omni-deck. The trick I liked most was when he showed a photo of a bunch of fruits, put the photo into a book/album, and when he reopened the book, lots of fruits fell out. Including a grapefruit that would be impossible to fit inside a closed book, to say the least, haha.


We also received a photo taken of us when we were watching magic, that we did not notice when they took. All in all, we got to see a lot of high level magic, and a lot of it was not only high level but also very entertaining. While it was expensive, it was probably worth the money.


My friends 1000 yen bill ended up inside a green pepper and thus smelling strange so he got a new one, which was folded like a shirt (also a word play joke in Japanese, were bill is "satsu" and shirt is "shatsu").
Location: good, near Shinbashi and Ginza stations, where there are many magic bars (only a 23 second walk from the magic bar Half Moon, according to Google maps)
Type of magic: close up
Quality of magic: generally very high, lots of very high level magic done in a short time
Cost: 7000 yen (for 60 minutes)
Interior: small, but clean and nice
Staff: nice. Apart from the two magicians there was also a female bartender. Especially the young magician was nice and funny.
Overall impression: the most expensive magic bar so far, but a lot of high level magic. Maybe too many closing level strength effects done right after each other, which lessens the impact of the individual effects.

場所:いい、新橋や銀座の近く。他のマジックバーが回りに沢山あるところ(ハーフムーンが歩いて23秒だそうだ(Google Mapsによれば、細かいなぁ))

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Magic museum review: Musée de la Magie

Another very old magic prop, which inspired me to make my own modern one.
I went to Germany on a two week business trip in 2009. Since the people at the research institute I was visiting did not want to work during the weekend, I had two days off during my stay. I took the train to Paris and visited the famous sites (the Louvre, where more than half the visitors spoke Japanese; the Eiffel tower; the L'Arc de triomphe; Notre Dame; etc.). Fairly close to Notre Dame, there is a museum of magic called Musée de la Magie, Paris.

2009年の秋にドイツに出張で行った。2週間くらいだったが相手の研究所の人たちが週末に働かなかったので、週末に暇になった。電車に乗って、パリに行った。有名なとこり色々回った(ルーブル美術館・エッフェル塔・ノートルダムとか)。ノートルダムのまあまあ近くにマジック博物館もある:「Musée de la Magie, Paris

Old magic props.
The items in the museum collection is the private collection of a famous French magician, Robert Houdin. There are big props used for large illusion, small items used for close up, old posters for magic shows, a magic shop selling lots of magic props, a small stage where they do magic shows for you, and lots of optical illusions.

マジック博物館にあるものが全部フランスの有名なマジシャンの「Robert Houdin」のプライベートのコレクションだった。イリュージョンの大型のものもあるし、クローズアップ用の小さなものもあるし、昔のマジックショーのチラシもあるし、昔のプロマジシャンのものを見る機会になる。マジックショップも、ステージもある。ステージで短いマジックショーを見ることも入場券に含まれている。

A very old painting showing street magic.

The museum was much smaller than I had expected. It was basically two pretty small rooms with old magic props on display. Seeing the very old props used by professional magicians of years long gone was quite interesting though. There is also a magic show included in the entrance fee. A young French magician did a short salon magic show for me and about 20 other visitors. Most people were French, but since enough were not he spoke both French and English during the show. He did some nice rope magic, some card tricks, and a chop cup routine (if I remember correctly). He was pretty good.


The stage used for the magic show.

There was also a magic shop selling books and magic props (modern ones). They had some interesting things, like gimmick coins looking like Euro coins.


Optical trickery.

The museum also has a large collection of optical illusions and similar things, which I really enjoyed. There is also a large collection of old mechanical (wind-up) toys, that was pretty nice.


The interior of the building is very nice. The walls and doors etc. are beautiful, and the display cases housing all the props are also nice. The stage for the magic show was small but nice. There were three levels of seats so everyone could see what was going on clearly without being blocked by people in front.


Place: kind of out of your way, so in a little inconvenient place. Nothing else of interest nearby, though I had an excellent lunch in a restaurant around the corner.
Price: very cheap
Size: very small
Magic show: a short salon magic show is included, and it was good
Overall impression: if you are in Paris and have time over, do visit. The famous things like the Eiffel tower or Louvre are better, though, so if you do not have time to see all, the magic museum should not be a high priority.


Magic bar review: Te to Te to Te

Te to Te to Te 
The first time I ever went to a magic bar was in 2008. I spent one week in Asahikawa because of a conference I was presenting some research at. The last day of the conference everyone else left Asahikawa but I was staying to meet a friend who lives in Asahikawa the next day. I was all alone in the evening and just randomly walked around the entertainment district. I came upon a sign saying they showed magic inside, and decided to check it out.


The interior of Te to Te to Te

So on June 13 I had my first magic bar experience (though I had seen magic live once before at a lecture by the pro magician Tom Stone back at my university in Sweden), at the magic bar "Te to te to te" in Asahikawa.

6月13日にマジックバー初体験になった(スウェーデンで一回マジックを生で観たことがったけど。大学でプロマジシャンのTom Stoneが発表をした時に短いマジックショーもしてくれた)。「てとテと手」という店に入った。

The business card (used in magic) of the owner.

There was an older magician (the owner) doing magic and a younger magician in training who did not perform for me but talked to me and made drinks. There were no other customers at the time I was there but when I was leaving a group of people entered the bar.


Some light food I tried.

A non-alcohol cocktail on a playing card coaster.
Since it was quite a long time ago I went there, I have fairly foggy memories of what magic I was shown. There were of course quite a lot of card tricks, but there were also tricks with rubber bands, paper clips, business cards, and lots of joke props. They also had a lot of napkins folded into animal shapes etc. Including one made to look like Godzilla. The magic was good, but nothing that stands out compared to the top level magic bars in Tokyo or Osaka (or Sapporo, though I may be partial here :-) I had a very nice evening, and if I have nothing to do in Asahikawa some other time I may go again.


Napkins folded like birds, rabbits, and Godzilla.

A napkin Godzilla!

Location: Good, close to Asahikawa station.
Type of magic: close up
Quality of magic: OK
Cost: 4000 yen
Interior: nice, with a door that will not open in the normal way etc.
Staff: nice
Food & drinks: some light food available (drinks, the normal bar fare)
Overall impression: it was my first time in a magic bar, and I had a lot of fun. I have since been to places are much better, though. Nice if you are in Asahikawa, where there are not so many other places to go.


Magic bar review: Magic bar 12ji ・ マジックバー十二時

Me, Kiyono, and my friend U-san.
I have been to the magic bar 12ji ("12 o'clock") twice. It is located in Ginza, close to many other magic bars (Toto's bar, Half Moon, Joker, comes to mind) and stays open very late (5 A.M.) so you can go there after the other places have closed. They also have a very nice stage where they do stage magic. Even if you show up at 4 A.M. and no one else is there, they will do stage magic just for you.

十二時という店に2回行ったことがある銀座にあるので、回りに他のマジックバー沢山ある(例えば、ハーフムーン・都々’s Bar・ジョーカー)。5時までもやっているので、他の店に行ってからもまだ行ける。綺麗なステージもあって、何の時間でも本格的にステージマジックを見せてくれるんだ。午前4時に2人だけで入っても。

Me and the magician Mac
The first time I went there with a friend, we entered at around 3:30 or so, and no other customers were there at such a late hour on a Monday. Two magicians performed for us. Sasuga Ryu (a word play name in Japanese, it is a palindrome in writing) did mentalism on stage and Mac-san did close up magic for us at our table. They also hung around chatting with us, as did a girl who did not do any magic but was very funny when talking.


A card with my signature ended up inside an unopened PET-bottle.
The second time, I went there with the same friend, and at about the same late hour on a Monday. Sasuga Ryu and Mac were both there again, and Sasuga Ryu performed more mentalism for us close-up, and a female magician Kiyono did a stage magic show for us. The funny girl who does not do magic was also there, and was still very funny.


Sasuga Ryu, my friend U-san, and me

The interior of the place is quite interesting, with several small rooms in more or less a maze (finding your way back from the toilet can be challenging). They have a large and very nice stage with a curtain and all, and lots of tables with sofas in front of the stage.


A fork bent into a "peace sign" (what in other parts of the world would be a V for victory, but in Japan it is V for peace)
The magic was OK but compared to the top level places in Tokyo it was not really on the same level. It was nice to see stage magic; including some jumbo card mentalism, water changing color when adding sand (and the sand becoming dry again when scooped out), fork bending etc. from Sasuga Ryu; and card manipulation, a three ring routine, and multiplying bottles from Kiyono. The close up magic included signed card to PET-bottle, packet tricks, finger manipulation, and all kinds of card magic.


Another PET-bottle and peace sign fork from our second visit.
12ji is part of a chain of magic bars, including 8ji, 10ji, and soon to open 11ji, all at various places in Tokyo. A magician I met in Sapporo had worked at 12ji and said he had been going around all the other places too, performing in all of them.


Me and a funny girl who never does magic but does a lot of funny/weird things.
Location: good (near Sinbashi station, and fairly close to Ginza station)
Type of magic: stage (salon) and close up
Quality of magic: OK.
Cost: 6000 yen
Interior: interesting, dark, European old magician's house style
Staff: very funny and nice
Bonus points: open until 5, when most other places have closed.
Overall impression: nice with a real stage, and impressive that they do stage magic shows for you at any time, even if you are the only two guests in the place.


Magic bar "Pochi no mahou" ・ マジックバー「ポチの魔法」

A fork ended up very bent in a mysterious way.
On February 22 2011 I went to a magic bar in Roppongi (Tokyo) called "Pochi no mahou". It was a great magic bar, but sadly the have since closed the place. Here is their old web page: Pochi no mahou.


When I arrived it was already quite late (I got there more or less with the last subway train). There were lots of people in the bar when I got there but all but three customers left right after I entered. When things calmed down I was asked to watch a magic performance together with the other three customers at the counter. 


Katsuya Mizusawa, very good magician.
The magician performing for us was Katsuya Mizusawa, or Katchan as he asked us to call him. He was great. He did the best fork bending I have seen so far (and every place in Tokyo included fork bending so I have seen many magicians do it), and managed to bend a spectator's signed coin without me noticing. He is also excellent at cigarette magic. He managed to hide a burning cigarette in his mouth and have us check if we could see it (we could not) when inspecting his mouth up close, and he also drank some tea before producing the cigarette, still burning, from his mouth again. It was also the first time I saw someone swallow lots of needles and a string and then reproducing everything again live.


Since everyone figured out I was a magician fairly quickly (anyone coming alone to a magic bar has a very very high chance of being a magician, especially so if they are a foreigner), I was asked to show something to the other customers after Katchan finished. I did an original trick of mine using hiragana (Japanese alphabet) practice cards, which went over very well. After they left I was told the woman in the company was actually a celebrity (so I should have taken a picture together with them!) which I as usual had no idea before being told. 


After all the "normal" people had left, Katchan talked to me for over an hour about all kinds of things and also showed some card magic (which he is very very good at but does not normally perform in the bar since every other bar has lots of card magic too). He was very kind, and very nice to talk to.


A 1000 yen bill very realistically painted on the floor.
The interior of the bar was fairly small, but nice enough. Especially the counter was very nice. The toilet was very interesting too. There was a 1000 yen bill painted on the floor in a very realistic way, so it looked like someone had dropped some money there. Trying to pick it up, you found out it was just a painting.


Location: good (close to Roppongi station in Tokyo)
Type of magic: close up
Quality of magic: extremely good
Cost: 6000 yen
Interior: nice
Staff: very nice
Overall impression: possibly the most technically skilled magician I have seen so far, doing lots of magic I have not seen in other places. Would go again if the bar had not been closed...


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Magic bar review: Magic Bar Surprise ・ マジックバーサプライズ

Ryuusei Kamiguchi and me
On the February 22, 2011, I went to Akasaka in Tokyo to visit Magic Bar Surprise. I got there pretty much at the time they opened, and there were not many customers there yet. It increased as the time grew later, though.


Alice and me
I was lucky and got to see many more magicians than normal. I had gone to Surprise for two reasons, they open early so no other magic bars are open, and they have many female magicians working there. This is not so common, so one of my Sapporo magician friends said that I had to go there and see if they are any good. They day I went there, two girls were scheduled as the normal performers, Sachi and Alice. Apart from them, the owner of the bar, Ryuusei Kamiguchi, was also there and when he heard that I was a magician coming all the way from Sapporo (and being non-Japanese, and able to speak Japanese) he also performed quite a lot of magic for me despite not actually being supposed to be there that day. Finally, there were two guest magicians in the bar that night, Taji -magic (appearing on TV in Japan quite a lot lately) and a woman slightly older than me with the stage name Wakaba. Everyone performed for me.


Me and Sachi holding magic props.
The bar itself is very nice. They have a small counter, and very nice looking white sofas with low tables. At first I was sitting at a sofa table with some older Japanese man watching magic there, and was moved to the counter with some other customers later when the bar became full.


The magic was pretty nice. First Sachi showed me some magic, which was mostly fairly simple standard tricks but performed well. Alice also performed things that looked fairly simple, but quite a few tricks had original presentations that I had not seen before. Ryuusei showed some very impressive coin magic, produced lots of hamburgers, and in general performed mainly magic that I have never seen anyone else perform. Entertaining, too. Ms. Wakaba showed me a few tricks at the counter, and they were entertaining (though not very advanced). Finally, Taji-magic did a lot of mental magic like card tricks that were probably impossible or uninteresting for "normal" people to try to keep up with, just because he knew I was a magician. Some of it was quite impressive, but some was so complex in the setup that at the end you did not know if it was surprising that whatever happened or if that was what could be expected (you no longer had any idea what was going on). For normal people he does completely different magic I was told. All of his magic was highly original.


Me and Taji-Magic
I was trying to be a "good" spectator but when I was asked to select a card from apparently 52 cards fanned in front of me for a mental effect, the cards where shoved up so close to my face that I could not see that the same 8 cards where repeated over and over again, but then again I could not distinguish hearts from diamonds in the fan (only a small part of the index was showing) and apparently "saw" a card that was not actually in the deck and spoiled the trick... Even though it was not on purpose and I don't think it was my fault I still felt a bit bad when I realized that I was thinking of a card that had not been in the deck.


I also got a promo DVD of Ryuusei Kamiguchi doing stage magic, and a cute looking business card with Alice on it
Anyway, the interior design was very nice, the price was fairly standard for Tokyo (6000 yen for free drinks, or 3000 yen table charge and buying a few drinks for one or two thousand yens total if you do not drink that much), the magicians were all very nice, and the magic was good. It was a nice experience. The place is a little out of the way compared to other magic bars in Tokyo (Shinjuku and Roppongi has a lot of other things to do, Ginza has a lot of magic bars), it is easy enough to get there by subway and there are shops/restaurants/bars nearby too.


The three female magicians Alice, Wakaba, and Sachi
And how about the reason I was sent there, all the female magicians? Compared to the best magicians I have seen, they were not at all on the same level, but they were pretty good.


Location: fairly easy access, but not an area you would go otherwise
Type of magic: close up (though Ryuusei Kamiguchi and Alice also do a lot of stage magic, only not in the bar)
Quality of magic: ranging from OK to very good (especially Ryuusei Kamiguchi was good)
Cost: 5000~6000 yen
Interior: nice
Staff: nice
Special point: many female magicians
Overall impression: a nice experience


Monday, November 14, 2011

Tenyo 2012, the third eye ・ テンヨー2012年、ザ・ザードアイ

Yet another update on the Tenyo 2012 item "The third eye". I have been using this a lot in our magic bar lately, and it is great. Sadly, people often drop the eye when you hand it to them to put between their eyes (or when they hand it to someone else). This has led my third eye to be very glitchy. I though it was broken first, but it started working again later.


Anyway, apart from it having to be handed out to drunk people and the risk of them dropping it (breaking your expensive toy), it is highly recommended. It does not work that well with only one or two spectators, but the larger the group the greater the impact. You explain that anyone with this eye between their eyes can see where the selected card is, and when the first person to use the eye slightly suprisedly says "Yes, I can see it!" the other people get curious. They still cannot see anything out of the ordinary. You have one more person try it, and go "Ah, I see it!". People get even more excited, since they still cannot see anything. This keeps building, so the more people the better!


I think I will go and buy myself one more of these wonderful toys, since the first one seems quite unreliable by now.


Magic birthday

Yesterday there was a birthday dinner for all the people in our magic bar (staff, regulars, etc.) that had their birthday in October or November. We had lots of nice food, a cake, and presents!


Five magicians (and at least two more that do magic from time to time) celebrating birthdays.
I got an umbrella that looks like a katana (samurai sword), and 103 decks of cards of the design I like best! Apparently my friends have scoured the whole city, calling every Daiso shop in Sapporo (and other cities like Obihiro) and reserved every deck of this type available. I also got a (long) list of all the Daiso they had checked. A great present, but a little heavy to lug home.


A samurai sword style umbrella.

103 decks of cards for me!