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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Magic Bar Review: Red King

A week or so ago, I went to the newly opened magic bar "Magic bar Red King" here in Sapporo with a friend. When we entered, there were no other customers there but an hour or so later a young woman also showed up. The bar is quite small, with a counter that seats around 6 people, and a few sofas and tables. The interior is quite nice, and they had decorated with a lot of figurines from Ultra Man or some other Japanese series.


When we arrived, the magician Akitsugi Domoto was there and he showed us some card magic. He did  find our selected card, did some color changes, a "sloppy shuffle" triumph where the red and black cards ended up separated too, and a card with the corner torn off disappearing and showing up in an impossible location (his pocket). After that, we talked about magic and other things for a while. We thought the magic show was a bit short for a magic bar and asked for some more magic. Then he did a mental effect where he predicted the color of the cards in a part of a deck that was slightly shuffled by a spectator, and made the name of a chosen card show up on a receipt from the convenience nearby.


My friend likes coin magic so we also asked to see some coin tricks. There were some simple coin vanishes and reappearances, the muscle pass, and in the end the selected coin ended up on the back of my friends hand after disappearing. When the young girl had arrived too, we were also shown a mental card trick were a mentally selected card ended up being the only card in the card box that had been on the table since before the trick started (and for some reason the card was also folded). When another friend of mine was shown this trick it was incredibly clean, but when we were there the card selection procedure was quite long and convoluted. The girl said she had seen this trick five times but still had no idea how it was done, though.


Magician Domoto was quite nice to talk to too, and for about 30 minutes or so the other guy on the poster they have outside also came in and talked to us (he runs one more bar in the same building so Red King is mainly run by Domoto they said). He happens to be a former class mate of two of my friends, so we had met before. He has a lot of experience running bars, and he was very funny to talk to. He told us funny stories about all kinds of things, including some famous Japanese magicians. We asked if he too would show us some magic but he said is not really a magician (though he does know a few tricks since I have seen him perform card magic for some girls in another of his bars).

堂本さんの話も面白かった。30分間くらい、Red Kingのポスターの2人目の人も店に入って来て、話してくれた。僕のマジシャン友達2人の同級生だから前にも会ったことがある。同じビルにもう1つのバーもやっているからその店2つに行ったり来たりするみたい。飲み屋の仕事に慣れてて、話が上手だ。色々な面白い話、例えば有名な日本人のマジシャンの話をしてくれた。マジックも見せてくれませんか?って聞いてみたがマジシャンではないと言われた。別の店でトランプマジックを女の子に見せることは見たことがあるから、出来ないことはないと思うけどね、笑。

All in all, we had a good time. Though for high quality magic (and fun conversation) in Sapporo I would still recommend one of the Twister magic bars instead (though I may be biased, haha).


Location: On the outskirts of the entertainment district Susukino.
Type of magic: Close up.
Quality of magic: So-so.
Cost: 3,000 yen for nomihoudai, or 1,500 yen charge plus about 500 yen per drink.
Interior: Nice.
Staff: Friendly.
Of special note: Unusually large selection of teas,which is nice for people not drinking alcohol.
Overall impression: The magic show was a bit short, and some of the magic would probably have been seen through by non-magicians too, but we had a nice time.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

New magic toy: appearing bread ・ 出現のフランスパンが届いた

Today I got a new toy in the mail: bread that appears out of your suspicious looking hand. I hope people will think this gag is as funny as I did when I first saw it.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

New magic bar in Sapporo

In Sapporo, two new magic bars have opened! I have not had time to visit either, but some people I know did.


In one of the magic bars a guy I have met because he is a friend of one of my magician colleagues is working, together with a magician I have met a few times in our magic bar. The latter was kind of weird when he showed magic to me two years ago, but it would be interesting to see if he has gotten any better since then. I will try to go and see them soon.


Death Sauce pizza

On Tuesday I was one of the presenters in our lab's seminar series at the university. Our seminars are held from 18:00 to whenever they finish (usually around eight, but sometimes they go on until eleven). Since my working hours are only until 17:00 I often do not attend the seminars (I do not get paid for overtime, and am generally not allowed to take time off some other time instead either), but when it is my turn to present I do of course attend.


When I got back home at around 20:15, I got an e-mail from my boss in the magic bar who said: "So, you are very busy today?" I e-mailed him back and said that I was kind of thinking of going out and having dinner, but that perhaps bringing my bag of magic props to the magic bar would be more fun. He replied that "Indeed, if you come here I am sure something fun is waiting for you!"


So I skipped dinner and went to our magic bar where it turned out my boss was working alone. There were three groups of guests, 4 persons, 5 persons, 3 persons, all showing up at the same time which is difficult to handle alone. All guests were very funny guests to do magic for, so it was very nice when there were two of us.


After the guests left, my boss ordered some pizza for us from a very cheap place (one pizza for 500 yen instead of say 3500 yen which is common in Japan). It is so cheap so it does not come with Tabasco (which for some reason Japanese people think is a must on pizza). My boss did remember that a customer had left a bottle of Death Sauce for us a few weeks ago, though. So we ended up eating pizza with lots and lots of Death Sauce. My mouth hurt for 20 minutes or so after that, but not as much as when I tried Death Sauce the first time.



After attending the Hokkaido Magic Convention I went to our magic bar and did magic. I did a magic trick where the spectators draw pictures and I later try to guess who drew which picture. This time, it turned out that all three men (out of four people) drew stars! This made it a bit difficult even for them to tell if they got their own drawing back or if it was just a very similar drawing, haha. The girl drew a tiny heart, not a start, though.


The Second Hokkaido Magic Convention

During the weekend, there was the Second Hokkaido Magic Convention here in Sapporo. There was a series of lectures by the guest magicians, but I did not have time to attend that. I did go to see the show, though. I even got a seat at the third row from the front, which was very very close to the stage. So close that I learned a lot about the secret compartments of the illusion props...


First, the magician Birdie Koyama did a small levitation effect as a welcome to the event. Then there was a section called the "Free performance", which was magic done by amateurs but people who did not want to participate in the competition part of the convention. The magicians ranged in age from somewhere around 60 years old to over 80. Some of them were quite good, some not so good.


Next there was a short break and then the competition part of the convention started. This year there were five contestants. One of them was once a member of the university magic club at my university (that I was a member of up until two years ago) but that was many years before I came to Sapporo. The others were mainly retired people who took up magic when they no longer had any work to do. Many of them looked very nervous, but mostly everything went fine. There were no super good performances, and many of the same tricks are done (and done better) by the students in our magic club. There were lots of production effects, and almost everyone did the million cards (producing endless amounts of playing cards from thin air) and many did the four billiard ball production.


Both in the free performance section and in the competition it was nice to see quite a few female magicians, though more than half were male. In the end, the winner of the competition also was a woman (with the guy from my club coming in second).


After the competition there was a slot with the professional performers. We got to see Akkey (who I know) who did a lot of very funny stuff and finished by producing a gigantic dove (human sized). We also got to see Batman do magic (the owner of the magic shop Mebius here in Sapporo for some reason loves to dress up as Batman and did a magic performance dressed like that). Then we saw Hiroshi Ota do many of the magic effects that had been done in the free performance section and in the competition, only he did them cleaner, funnier, and more competently. He did thins like the million cards and thimbles, and he did them very well.


There was also a section called "dealer magic" with the owner of a magic shop in southern Japan doing lots of magic that was mainly showing off how to use props that he sold. It was not that interesting, but it is at least a good way to get to see how the props can be used and how suspicious they look in actual performance.


Finally there was a team doing illusions, and that was very nice. The magician Zauber and his wife did several famous illusions, like a girl appearing out of an empty cage set on fire, a zig-zag-illusion style trick, a girl put in a small box that is then run through with lots of swords, and a subtrunk illusion (a person locked in a box and a person standing on top of the box change places very quickly). Zauber  also did some tricks where he produced a lot of 10,000 yen bills, tricks with fire, and a trick with a prediction of an animal inside an envelope. Mrs Zauber changed her clothes a lot. Every time she got into a new box she had a new dress on, and every time she got out she had yet another dress, so she must have changed clothes 8 times or so.


Zauber had also invited a magician from Kagoshima to do a guest performance during Zauber's guest performance. This magician did a performance of the Chinese quick change mask. The face mask changes instantly, many many times, without the magician's hands being anywhere near. It was the first time I saw this type of magic live.


When the convention was over, I was very hot, very tired, and very hungry. The convention lasted for about 4 hours, which I think was too long. I got to see a lot of fun magic though. Then we left for our magic bar and me and my boss did magic for our guests there for a few more hours.


Huge cream puff

One of our regular customers came by to watch some magic and brought enormous cream puffs. He brought one for each of the staff, but one to share between the three of us would have been enough, haha.


A letter from Osaka

When I went to our magic bar a few days ago, there was a letter addressed to me waiting there. It was from Monsieur Pierre in Osaka. It was kind of a newsletter about the bar Magic Time. Very cute hand drawn illustrations.


Magic Bar Reviev: Red Carpet

During my trip to Fukuoka, I visited the magic bar "Red Carpet" twice. The owner, magician Hiro, is a friend of the owner of the magic bar I do magic at in Sapporo, and we met in Sapporo before. Red Carpet is located in the Nakasu entertainment district in Fukuoka. The bar itself is quite large, with a counter for magic shows and quite a few tables were larger groups of people can sit and eat (and watch more magic). There was even a place to play darts. The interior decorations had an Egyptian theme, with lots of posters and small figurines of Egyptian gods etc.

福岡に行っていた時にマジックバー「Red Carpet」に2回も行った。オーナーのヒロさんがうちのマジックバーのオーナーと仲良い。札幌に来ていた時に一回会った。Red Carpetが福岡の中洲にあるので、行きやすい。バーが結構広くて、マジックショー用のカウンターもテーブル席もある。ダーツの出来る。ヒロさんはエジプトのことが好きらしい。エジプトの飾り物がいっぱいあって、きれいだった。

When I first arrived, there was one more guest there and he also knew some magic. Even though there were only the two of us, magician Hiro put on a full magic show for us, and another magician also did some close up magic for me. The next day I went back and then the counter was full, so full that even after adding two more chairs there was no room for me. I watched the magic show from a table seat instead.


The magic show contained lots of different types of magic. Hiro did magic accompanied by music, and the choice of music was made with the magic in mind (or maybe the other way around). There were lots of funny gag type magic tricks (like a brown handkerchief turning into poo, or a balloon turning into a penis), some mentalist type effects, card magic, fork bending, and some very strange cubes that changed places under impossible conditions. His closing effect was the cup and balls using cans of canned fruits. In the end, not only did a lot of actual fruits show up, the cans also turned into unopened cans, and a live white mouse also appeared out of one of the cans.


Hiro also does a very nice cigarette magic routine, where in the end a card that had previously been torn to pieces also appears and is restored. I was also impressed by a card trick where one spectator selects a card, and another spectator that does not know which the selected card is sweeps his hand around the edge of a fan of cards and stops wherever he wants and in the end turns out to stop with his finger pointing right at the selected card. Hiro also showed me some tricks that he thought I would be interested in but that were not in the show, including a coin in a glass covered by another glass that still started (and stopped) spinning on command, a strange card case from which you could produce a deck of cards with a certain card at any number, and throwing a deck of cards wrapped in rubber bands up and having only one card stick to the ceiling (a famous trick that I had not seen live before).


Location: In the entertainment district Nakasu, easy to get to by subway.
Type of magic: Close up.
Quality of magic: Good.
Cost: I paid 3,000 yen, including one drink.
Interior: Egyptian things here and there, nice.
Staff: Funny, very friendly.
Overall impression: A lot of strange magic. Also lots of gags. Funny.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Magic Bar Review: Nishioka

I went to Fukuoka for a project meeting in March 2013 and I found time to visit the magic bar Nishioka there. Nishioka is (probably) the oldest magic bar in Japan. It has been over 40 years since they opened, I was told.


The bar is mainly one very long bar counter. It seats over 20 people I think. The interior looks like it has not been changed since when they opened 40 years or more ago, which gives it a very nice atmosphere.


When I got there, which was fairly early in the evening (around eight or so) there were no other guests there. There were three magicians, and they each came to my part of the counter and performed magic for 10 to 20 minutes for me. As they were doing so, other guests started coming, and when the last magician was finished at my place the bar was full. I was allowed to stay around and watched the magicians performing for the group of people sitting next to me too. For most guests, as soon as the last magician finished the "mama" of the place showed up with the bill, and people came and left pretty quickly.


The magic they performed at Nishioka was very nice. They did a lot of very famous classical tricks, that are classics because they are great tricks. Some of the things they are famous for are the cups and balls (8 lemons showed up in total) and watch steal (pickpocket magic). The group of girls sitting next to me saw the same girl having her watch stolen several times (every magician wanted to take a watch for some trick, and since she had the only watch...).


The son of the owner of Nishioka complained that I did not give him fair warning when exactly I took a photo of him, so he did not have time to adjust his face...
... so I took one more photo and he was very happy with that. No noticeable change at all, though, haha.
I also had one of my 10,000 yen bills signed and then made to disappear, and it later appeared inside a box of matches that had possibly been on the table the whole time. There was also a production of 50 or so sponge balls, which was very funny. The group of girls next to me also got a huge sponge penis (which the magician did not produce for me). I also saw rope magic (professor's nightmare), coin magic, card magic, strange iPhone apps, ring and string magic, a three shell game, the China rings, magic with safety pins, and the invisible deck. All in all, they showed me a lot of magic, in a very high tempo.


Location: In the entertainment district Nakasu, easy to get to by subway.
Type of magic: Close up.
Quality of magic: Good.
Cost: 5,500 yen, including one drink.
Interior: Old, nice.
Staff: Funny.
Overall impression: Lots of classics of magic. Recommended.


Monday, April 8, 2013

A~majide again

On my way home from Osaka, I also had time to visit the magic bar "A maji de" again. It is the only magic bar I know of in Osaka that is open on Sundays. I went there on Sunday evening and it was packed. There was a group of high school teachers there that were very funny to talk to. They were interested in Sweden, and they laughed at my t-shirt.


When I arrived a magic show was just about to begin at the show table, and the teachers were kind enough to squeeze together to make room for me too. Later, two more guests showed up and everyone squeezed together even more so these two could see the show too.


We got to see the young magician Korogi do quite a lot of funny magic, and then we got to see master Kubo do a full show too. Both of them did a lot of the same magic that I saw last time I was there, but they also did quite a bit of magic that I had not seen before. Korogi did a fun trick where the audience mixed up a small Rubik's cube, and then he took a big Rubik's cube and in 3 seconds made it into the same random pattern as the small cube. Master Kubo did a trick where three coins on the table turned into four coins, and then he took one coin away so it was three coins again. They then turned into four coins again, which was repeated very many times. Very clean.


After the big group of guests left, several small groups of new guests came, so in the end they did a new full set of magic, so I got to see the two magicians do their shows twice. Lots of fun.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Magic bar review: Magic Time

On my trip to Osaka for my friend's wedding I did find time to visit the magic bar "Magic Time" in Osaka too. It is run by the very funny magician "Monsieur Pierre". I had seen him one before, in Vernon's Bar (also in Osaka), but now he has opened his own bar. Bar Magic Time is located very close to Vernon's Bar.


The bar is quite small, with a counter that seats about 8 people or so, and some small tables against the other wall. These tables and chairs are on an elevated part of the bar, so sitting at the tables you can still see any magic being performed at the counter. The bar is run by Monsieur Pierre and his wife. There are specific show times when a magic show starts and you are expected to show up before or after a show, not in the middle of an ongoing show.


I showed up early for the very first show of the day. Apart from me there was also a couple in their thirties or so (I can never tell with Japanese people) and a family with of three with a high school kid who also did magic.


Before the magic show started Monsieur Pierre gave us some riddles to think about to pass the time. One was: "How do you turn the false equality '1 / 100 = 100' into a true equality [so no making the '=' into a not equal sign] by drawing one straight line?" which I figured out fairly quickly. He also told some funny stories.

ショーの時間になる前にムッシュ・ピエールが面白い小学校の入学式の問題とかを出して、面白い喋りで時間つぶした。問題の例は:「1 / 100 = 100」に直線1つ書いて、正しくして下さい。「=」に直線を引いて、ノットイコールにするのが駄目だった。まあまあ早く解いたから、小学校に入れるみたい、w。

Then the magic show started. For about 45 minutes Monsieur Pierre did lots of magic while being very funny. There were lots of puns in Japanese, and the ones I could understand (possibly there were others that I did not notice) were quite funny. He did close up magic at the bar counter, and he used nice looking props from Mikame Craft, did magic with cards, very very quickly solved a Rubik's cube, did magic with coins, etc. We got to see most of his famous tricks, like the jokers that ride two on one bicycle, or his necktie disappearing and appearing under a handkerchief. There was also a lot of magic that I had not seen before, neither on TV nor at Vernon's Bar.


Bar Magic Time also has a stamp card system, and if you get three stamps in a certain amount of time, you get 1000 yen off the next time you go. Monsieur Pierre also asked us if we new the old Japanese word for March, and anyone that new it would get an extra stamp for free. Since someone new and said it out loud, everyone of course got an extra stamp. Lots of small funny interactions that made the visit very pleasurable.


Location: In the entertainment area near Osaka station and Umeda.
Type of magic: Close up.
Quality of magic: Very good.
Cost: Cheap, 3500 yen if you do not drink that much.
Interior: Nice.
Staff: Very funny and friendly.
Overall impression: Funny. Very good magic. Cheap. Highly recommended.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Magic bar Toto's bar

During my trip to Tokyo I also spent two nights in Toto's Bar. My hotel was quite close to Toto's Bar, and it is one of Tokyo's best magic bars. Magician Toto is extremely good at entertaining people. There are a bunch of other magicians working in Toto's Bar too, and they are nice too.

東京の出張の時に、2回も都々’s Barに行った。泊っていたホテルが近かったのもあるが東京のトップレベルのマジックバーなので、何回も行きたくなるのもあるね。都々さんが凄く盛り上げ上手。他のマジシャンも都々’s Barにいる。皆面白い人だ。

A live goldfish that appeared from nowhere
I first met the female magician Minto in the hallway outside, where she was seeing off some other guests. She commented on my t-shirt and then did some magic for another group. I was at the same time being entertained by the magician Yamato (who I had met once before in Sapporo), so I could not see much of what Minto was doing. She then left. Yamato stuck around for a long time, and he did a lot of magic for me. He produced a real live goldfish out of thin air, for example.


Very good karaage chicken
I also met the magician Yuto, who I had not seen before. He turned out to have watched a lot of my YouTube clips so we talked about that for awhile. He had even learned a card move from one of my clips and asked me if he was doing it right. We seem to have similar taste in magic, and he did a lot of magic similar to tricks I do.


Raisins in butter, stuffed into bread
At around 1 a.m. the bar become completely full again, and they decided to do one more stage show, with Toto, Yamato, and Yuto all performing. After all the "normal" guests had left they had a "magic study circle", and I was invited to join them too. I joined for an hour or so but had to get some sleep before next day's work too, so I left "early".


A late night meal for the staff
I dropped by the next night too, and saw two more stage shows. I also spoke to a magician from southern Japan who was visiting, and saw a lot more close up magic. I also showed one trick to Yamato that he liked a lot, so he asked me to show it to the others too, and he asked me if it was OK if he copied my trick. I said fine :-)

次の夜も都々’s Barに行った。ステージショーを2回も観れた。日本の南のほうのマジックバーからの若いマジシャンも隣にいたからちょっと話した。ヤマトさんに僕が考えたマジック1つ見せて、凄い気に入ったみたいなので、他の人にも見せてと言われた。そして、私もやっていい?って聞かれた。勿論、どうぞって答えた。

The new edition of the Toto's Bar cards
During these two nights, they also kept giving me food. They came over with some fried chicken or some raisin/butter sweets and said: "Try this, it is really good". Indeed, the food was really good! I had eaten before coming there so I guess I gained a few kilos during this trip... They also refused to let me pay for the food, so I got two super great visits very VERY cheap there... So cheap I felt bad about it. They also gave me a deck of cards with the new Toto's Bar card design (I have two decks of the old design since before).

この2回で、何回も食べ物を出して貰ったんだ。「この唐揚げが凄く美味しいから食べてみて」とか、バターレーズンのお菓子とか、色々貰った。本当に美味しかった!バーに来る前に普通に食べ放題とか(仕事の懇親会)を食べたから、東京で太ったなぁ。帰る時に食べ物の分を払うとか、基本的に払うのが駄目だと言われたから激安って感じで終わった。申し訳ないほど払っていないから…都々’s Barの新しいデザインのトランプも貰ったし(前のデザインのトランプも2個持っている)。

So I had a great time, got to see huge amounts of very good magic, got quite a lot of food, and got to see them feed all the doves and parakeets they use in their show, etc. Toto's Bar is always great, so I highly recommend it to anyone in Tokyo.

凄く楽しい時間過ごせたし、素晴らしいマジックを沢山見せて貰ったし、美味しい食べ物も沢山貰ったし、ハトやインコに餌をやる時も見れたし、色々楽しかった。都々’s Barはいつ行っても楽しいから、かなりおすすめだね!

A fake candle (actually a very realistically looking electric light)

The lit and fluttering fake flame looked less realistic from the side

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Magic bar Surprise

During my short trip to Tokyo I also managed to get away early (around 22:00) from work on Friday and went to the magic bar Surprise in Akasaka. I have been there twice before. This time there were three magicians there, Susumu (who I had not seen before), Alice, and Akimoto.


If you, like me, do not drink a lot, Surprise is a very cheap magic bar, especially by Tokyo standards. The bar is quite small, in a very nice and cosy way. Every time I have been there they have always been very nice and spent lots of time talking to me about all kinds of things after the magic has finished. This time too, we talked about Sweden, about a magician that Akimoto used to work with who now lives in Hokkaido (where I live) and who I happen to know (we were on TV together, for instance), and about Alice having trouble convincing a magic shop dealer in the US that she was not a kid (he apparently kept showing her only kids magic props despite her telling him she works in a bar; the curse of looking very young I guess, haha).


The magic was also nice. First Susumu showed me card tricks, coin tricks, cups and balls, and more. Then Alice came over and did more card tricks, coin tricks, etc. She was very funny, with lots of ironic stories regarding the magic she did, that she told with a completely serious face. She had me take out a 100 yen coin from my wallet and sign it. She had me check that I had indeed never signed any 100 yen coins from 1997 before, and in general made the coin seem very important. Then she put it in a paper envelope, set it on fire, and made the coin disappear. And that was that. Seemed like there was not that much need for signing the coin. A very similar coin did appear much later in a different magic trick, though. And then she proceeded to tell me how special this occasion was, and that she was going to give me a present which she said was very rare in their bar. It was also a very very rare present. She gave me a 100 yen coin that was signed, so there was probably only one of these in the whole world. A very rare present indeed. Lots of things like that. When I mentioned we had met once before she did recall that it was more or less exactly two years since I was there last time.


Finally, the magician Akimoto cam and did some magic tricks that I had not seen before, and some that he showed me last time I was there too. He has a very good second deal.


Magic bar Issey

About six weeks ago I went on a business trip to Tokyo. (I have been travelling too much and not had time to catch up with the blogging.) I arrived late at night on the day before our meeting, so I had some time to visit some magic bars in Tokyo. First I went to Magic Bar Issey. I have been there once before, and it is a nice place. They do both table magic and a stage magic show on a small stage. They even do illusions.


This time I saw the magicians Shingo (who I had not seen before) and Seiju (who was working last time I was there too). First they each came to my table where I was sitting alone, and they did table magic for me. Then it was time for the stage show. After that I watched some more table magic being performed for a group of young girls at the table next to mine.


After the stage show they had lots of doves, and three parrots.
The stage show was as expected a lot of fun. I got to see Shingo swallow a two meters long balloon and then later produce the same balloon from his mouth. There was a small illusion, magic with face masks, lots of goldfish appearing, some audience interaction with a peanut butter sandwich magic trick, and much more.


A deck of cards turned into a small lunch box.
The close up magic was also nice. Seiju is very good with coins, and he did some traditional magic tricks using non-standard methods. He also used a lot of joke props. Shingo did some interesting card tricks, and a lot of other things too. Seiju did sort of remember the first time we met after I mentioned that he had not come to our table at that time, haha.


They have a live shark swimming around behind the counter.