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, January 14, 2014

Coin into glass with a big surprise ・ コイン・ツー・グラスの動画

This is Hiroshi Kato, the owner of our magic bar, doing a "coin to glass" magic trick with a twist (at the appropriately named magic bar "Twister"). A big surprise variation on a classic trick. He put it up on Facebook himself in his "Today' magic" series, but he asked me to put it on YouTube too, so here it is.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Yearly magic duel

Every year at the university staff "new year party", a professor who is learning magic finds me and asks me to show him some magic. This is a lot of fun, and it happened in 2013 and in 2012, as reported on this blog. It happened this year too, and I wrote about it on my other blog.


Visiting American magician

William Rader the mentalist, and me
A few weeks ago, I got a Facebook friend request from someone I did not know. Quickly checking his profile, I learned that he was a magician so I figured that was why he wanted to connect. He then sent me a message saying: "I am going to Japan! Can we meet up?" Since I live in Sapporo and most people that come to "Japan" go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, or some of the famous places in the south, I was a bit surprised. A few messages later, I learned that he was going to stay in Sapporo for three weeks or so, because his wife is from Sapporo and they would be here to visit relatives over the New Year.


Me, doing a Christmas magic show at Bottom Cafe

He said that he had been in Sapporo before, but that he had not managed to find any magic to watch at that time. This time, they had found my blog. When I told him there are at least six magic bars in Sapporo (and many many more in Tokyo etc.) he was very surprised.


The university magic club performers of this years Christmas show

This time, his timing was very good and there were many other things related to magic to see too. He came to our magic bar (Magic Bar Twister) when I was working, and we went to the other magic bar in our chain (Trick Bar Twister) together too. He also came to see my Christmas Magic Show at Bottom Cafe, and he came to see the Hokudai Kijutsu Kenkyuukai (the university magic club) at the Christmas show. We also went together to the magic bar Hey Pola and to Cocktail Bar Harada and saw lots of magic there too.


Hey Pola (magician Nihei)
Once we went out for soup curry (a Sapporo specialty) and discussed magic for a few hours too. He showed me a lot of things that he does when he performs, and I showed some things that I had not done when he saw me in the magic bar.


The fluent in English magician Harada in Cocktail Bar Harada

He was very nice, and it was interesting to talk to someone from abroad about magic. I learned magic in Sapporo, and though I talk to my Sapporo friends about magic it was very interesting to hear what is "hot" in the U.S. now etc. I also got some gifts; American playing cards of different types. So blogging does pay off sometimes.


Presents (and a heating pack the post office gave me for buying stamps)

Cocktail Bar Harada again ・ 2回目のカクテルバー原田

An incredible number of cards signed by different people covered the walls and ceilings.

Yesterday I went to Cocktail Bar Harada again. I was there two years ago with a Japanese friend, and this time I was there with an American magician who was visiting Sapporo. Cocktail Bar Harada is a regular bar, but if you ask, Mr. Harada is happy to show you magic. That this is a normal bar means that the selection of drinks is much much more varied than any magic bar I have ever been to. There are also many customers there who are not interested in magic.


More magic looking things

Mr. Harada speaks English were well. He started learning English when he was very young because his father thought that would be good, and he lived for a while in Canada. Since my American friend does not speak that much Japanese, it was nice to have someone show us magic (and talk about other things) in English for a change, so I did not have to translate.


The very nice looking bar counter

We got to see quite a lot of magic, and some examples include: a puzzle where you add more and more pieces but the size of the complete puzzle somehow stays the same, a trick that started out as coin bending but in the end a cigarette lighter was bent, some mystifying card sandwich effects, a card trick where a burnt joker was restored to prime condition but the signed card that my friend was holding in his hands became burnt instead, and a surprising card reveal where the selected card was named by the coffee patterns in the bottom of the cup which Mr. Harada had been drinking coffee from throughout the performance.


Mr Harada with his close up mat
We also talked a lot about magic, magic clubs, living in America or Canada, and much more. We had a great time, and the drinks were very good. The bar is also very cheap compared to magic bars, since the charge is much less.


Me and Mr Harada

On a side note, Mr Harada also teaches magic to people. One of his students is a professor at the university where I work, and we sometimes meet in the cafeteria or the secretaries' office etc. We also meet at the computer science department's New Year party every year, and every year he asks me to show him some magic, and he shows me some things he has learned since last year. The same day we went to Cocktail Bar Harada we also had the staff New Year party, so I had to do some magic there and we talked a bit about Mr Harada there too.


Magic Bar Review: Hey Pola ・ マジックバーレビュー:ヘイ・ポーラ

On 2014-01-06 I went to the magic bar "Hey Pola" in Sapporo together with an American magician who was visiting Sapporo over the New Year and had found my blog. Hey Pola is the bar of Tsugutomo Nihei, and he has been running this bar for 17 years. When we were told this, my American friend said: "What, he started running this place when he was 15?!" It turns out that Nihei is 43 years old, but he looks a LOT younger, haha.


When we came in, there was a group of three Japanese men there already. We all sat at the counter and watched Nihei's performance together. We got to see a handkerchief fly around the bar and then come back, some mentalism/lie detector things with a large wooden cube with different colors, magic with coins moving around and disappearing from the spectator's hand (ending up inside a glass), magic with bills (1000 yen became 10,000 yen), card magic to the soundtrack of Top Gun, and signed cards ending up inside an unopened PET-bottle of water, and more.


Lots of funny gags were sprinkled throughout the show, and one that I liked in particular was that he claimed his stage name was "Mr. Nande", written with the Chinese characters for "south" and "hand". This happens to sound exactly like the expression for "Why?" which is used in Japanese when you see something unexplainable. He also explained that like the hostess bars (there are lots of hostess bars in the same district) nearby, they had a "request fee" system. If you request a specific hostess (instead of getting one randomly assigned) there is often a "request fee". So if you requested a specific magician (though there was only one there, so you would get him no matter what), they would charge you 5000 yen. So any time anyone said "nande!?" in surprise, they counted up one more on the request fee charge, which was quite funny. One guy had a bill for 25,000 yen when he was leaving (which, as it turns out, he did not actually have to pay since it was just a joke).


Hey Pola also uses music and sound in a fun and interesting way. When the first card trick was about to start, Nihei put on RayBan sunglasses and started blasting the soundtrack of Top Gun. The spectator was asked to pick a card and look hard and remember it. He also had to touch it with his index finger to "lock on". The card was returned, the deck was shuffled, and then the "locked on" finger was used to find the card over and over again. There were many other magic routines done to music. I also loved the fake applause track that he would play after each routine was finished, haha.


The price we paid was 3500 yen for 90 minutes of "nomihoudai" (unlimited drinking), which is the standard price in Sapporo (prices in Sapporo are cheaper than Tokyo or Osaka in general). The bar is quite small but feels much roomier than it is. There are seats at the counter and some tables with sofas. There were lots of posters and paintings of Houdini on the walls. The selection of drinks was pretty standard, though there were some things that are not that common too, like a yogurt based cocktail.


After the performance was over and the other customers left, we sat and talked to "Mr. Nande" for quite some time. He has been to America and talked to my American friend about the Magic Castle and various conventions etc.


All in all, it was a very nice performance. We were told they aimed at "fun" more than "amazing", especially since they (being a bar) get a lot of people who are very drunk. I also like funny magic more than I like amazing magic (though I like both), and there were many jokes I found very funny.


Location: A short walk from the subway (Sapporo, Japan)
Type of magic: Close up
Quality of magic: Good
Cost: 3500 yen
Interior: Nice
Staff: Very nice
Food & drinks: Drinks, the usual selection.
Overall impression: Very funny. Good use of music and sounds.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Kame Hiroshi Live in Ario ・ 亀ひろしライブ@札幌アリオ

Today when I was buying some new trousers I passed by a small stage in the Sapporo ARIO where Kame Hiroshi was doing some comedy on stage. I did not see much of the show (when I passed by most of it was already over), but he also did some magic. I saw him change silks and float a ball. He was quite funny.


Rabbit magic in Saitama

Here is a clip of me doing some magic with Tenyo sponge rabbits at New Years. I was visiting my brother and his wife who were in Saitama at her parents' place. One evening some friends of hers also showed up, and I was asked to do "the trick with the rabbits", haha. I also did some other magic, but this is the trick people like the most.


Other than the rabbits, I also hammered a nail into my nose to psychically detect what card had been picked, used a small iPhone accessory to find other cards, did a "perfect match" magic trick for one of the girls, and had a signed card end up inside an unopened PET-bottle.