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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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Magic bar review: Toto's Bar

Toto doing some rope escape magic with two spectators (my friend on the right)
I have been to Toto's bar three times. The first time, Toto himself was not there (he was in America, performing at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, which he does regularly twice per year). There were other magicians there instead, of course, so it was still nice. Toto is extremely good at entertaining people, though, so missing him means missing a lot.

都々's Barに3回も行ったことがある。最初の時、都々さんがいなかった。アメリカのマジックキャッセルでマジックをやっていた。毎年行っているそうだ。代わりに他のマジシャンが勿論いたから楽しかった。都々さんが凄い盛り上げ上手だから、都々さんがいないとちょっと損するけどね。

Me and Toto
Toto's bar is located in the Ginza district in Tokyo. There are many magic bars in that area. The bar is fairly small, but looks very nice. There is a small stage area, a few sofa and table sets, and a counter. Toto does magic shows in front of everyone on the small stage, and he also does close up magic shows at the counter and in the sofas. If you book in advance, you can have a dinner and magic set with food that looks good (we never tried the food), or you can go there just for magic and drinks.

都々's Barが銀座にある。周りにマジックバーがいっぱいある。店がまあまあ狭いがきれいだ。小さなステージがあって、ボックス席もあって、カウンターがある。ステージで皆の前で都々さんがマジックショーをやる。カウンターやボックスでもクローズアップも見せて貰える。早い時間に行けば、ディナーコースも出来る。ご飯が普通に美味しそうだったがうちらはご飯試していない。

Toto's brother who makes food and handles sound, and the very nice bartender
Apart from Toto himself, there is a very nice bartender working there, making any drink you can imagine. Toto's brother works in the kitchen, and also does sound/music stuff for Toto during his shows. There are also other magicians working there, and they show you magic too.


On our first visit we saw Raito (apprentice to Toto, I think; all his apprentices have names ending with "to" by the way) and a guest magician called Mocchi. The second time I went there, Raito was there and Toto himself was back. The third time we showed up late and only Toto did magic. There was also a woman working there, but I do not know her name (or what her job actually was).


The very skilled magician Raito
Raito was very technically skilled, and performed very slowly in a gentleman style. His version of the professor's nightmare (3 ropes that change length) trick is the most technically beautiful version I have seen so far. Very slow but with care taken on angles to stop precisely where you have to stop etc. He also did a very nice version of a trick with a playing card turning inside out while folded inside another card. He was very good.


Toto is also very good, but more than his technical skills you become impressed with his entertainment skills. He is very good at getting the crowd going. He does some very advanced magic, but the main focus is on entertaining presentation ideas. He makes very good use of music and other sound effects during his show. In a similar vein, when he does spoon bending or similar effects, suddenly his necktie is bent out of shape and when you look around, so is his brother's necktie as well as the bartender's necktie. Funny details like that help a lot.


Toto does a parlor magic show on the small stage, including things like a floating table routine that is very good, rope escapes, producing bowling balls from a sketch pad, flying handkerchiefs, and things like that. Very high tempo, very entertaining.


He also does close up magic at the counter, including some very interesting coin magic, his signature effect where five spectators point their fingers at a deck of cards and go "bang" and for each bang that spectators selected card shoots out of the deck (he once mentioned that he sells this trick for 1 million yen but too many people kept buying it at that price so he upped the price to 1.5 million so he would not have to spend too much time teaching people that trick...), strange electric toy tricks, other fascinating card tricks, and more. Toto is one of the most entertaining magicians I have seen perform. Highly recommended.


The entrance to Toto's bar is a mirror
Since Toto performs one or two weeks in L.A. every year, presumable he also performs in English. He said he just spouts random words that sound like English and hope people understand him through body language, but I think he may have exaggerated, haha. He probably speaks English fairly well, but we only spoke Japanese. The owner of the magic bar where I perform is also friends with Toto, so we talked about common acquaintances and things like that too.


Location: Good location very close to the Ginza subway station, in a district full of magic bars.
Type of magic: Parlor and close up.
Quality of magic: Very very high
Cost: 5000 yen for me, depends on what you order.
Interior: nice
Staff: very nice and funny people
Of special note: Very good use of sound/music. Shows pictures of spectators taken during the magic show on monitors afterwards. Serves food during the early hours.
Overall impression: One of the best magic bars I have been to. Toto is VERY good at performing entertainingly. Highly recommended.


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