Kooza, Cirque Du Soleil 2011: Harajuku, Japan

This afternoon I had the pleasure of going to see the Daihatsu-sponsored*, Kooza, Cirque du Soleil show and it was truly amazing.

Things started off with a train ride to Harajuku around noon-ish. Knowing me and my horrible sense of direction, I didn’t want to take any chances. Spectators could start taking their seats around three-thirty, this gave me plenty of time to get to Harajuku and get some food before the show. I strolled around in Yoyogi Park for a little while and was able to find the Cirque Du Soleil big top pretty easily, it was in plain view, just across from Yoyogi Park. Despite the day being quite overcast, that Kooza sign, for me, was like a beacon…I got so excited when I saw that hypnotizing, colorful, red and black sign just beckoning me forward. It’s a little embarrassing but I was like a small child…truly elated.

*Daihatsu is a Japanese car manufacturer.*

I took about an hour to go and have a hearty, spicy lunch at Zest Cantina, a Tex Mex restaurant that was about a five to seven minute walk from the big top. I can’t say that the service was the best, but it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed a “zesty,” jalapeno, chicken, and cheese enchilada and extinguished that spicy after burn with copious amounts of cool water. Ahhhh…a full belly and a quenched thirst, I was ready for the show.

I walked anxiously to the gates and after the attendants tore the end off my ticket stub, I was granted access to the Kooza main area. This is where they had all of the Kooza merchandise, food, snacks, etc. I managed to get some footage of the main Kooza hall, and one of the official Kooza promotional books for 2000 yen, just before going to my seat around 4:00pm.

After sitting and perusing the promotion book for a while, we started to see clowns walking through the audience with balloons, and silly props ranging from vaccuum cleaners to jackhammers. The host clown kept having to turn off a alarm prop that kept saying “ステージをはなれらさい,” “steji wo hanarerasai,” “please clear the stage.” The show finally began when a clown planted in the audience, demanded that the host clown start the show.

The premise of the show was the story of a young clown who gets this mysterious package, and after opening it…out springs this dapper, vibrantly-colored, suited, young man with magic powers and unexplained, balletic grace. We all were then exposed to a magical, entrancing world of wonder.


My two favorite performances of the afternoon, without a doubt, had to be the contortionists near the beginning of the show and the two demons in the Wheel of death, a rotating, double-cylindered, frightful-looking contraption.

The three contortionists were dressed in these elegant, and intriguing, red, white, and orange body suits with gold accents. Their costumes had an essence of Asian/Indian style and it really added to the wonder of the performance…if that makes any sense. I was awestruck by the things these women could do, not to mention it was kind of a turn on (sorry…but it was).

Most average people can bend at their knees, waists, and arms, right? For some of the poses and postures that these three were performing, it seemed as though their bodies were able to bend at another point. It looked as though they could bend right were the sternum meets the top of the rib cage…it was pretty freaky…but extremely cool. To be honest, I could probably sit and watch this part of the show for 24 hours and never get tired of it.

The Wheel of Death was amazing in a different sense because it put you edge. As the two men would walk inside of the open cylinders of the wheels of death, it would rotate. As they picked up speed the wheel of death would move faster and faster. One person could also be inside the wheel, alone, and judge the balance point of the wheel just enough to make it pause. They were masters at what they were doing. Just as I was getting over my initial amazement with the prop, they stepped things up.

When the wheel really got going, one man would jump when his cylinder reached the 2 o’clock point (approximately). Because the wheel was still in motion, after they would leap, it was like their jumping abilities were enhanced. They were able to stay in the air longer than usual. They looked like superheroes, or creatures from some other world to whom the earthly rules of gravity don’t apply.

The real kicker was when the men went on the outside of the cylinders while the wheel was in motion. Other performers from the show tossed ropes to them. The two, masked men proceeded to speed rope on the outside of these open cylinders, while the Wheel of Death was in motion! One of the men had a close call, but he was able to get back in sync without skipping a beat…whew!! I can see why they call it the “Wheel of Death.” Because if I attempted any of that, my ass would be dead.

Kooza also really got the crowd involved. Audience members got to come up to the stage and be performers themselves. They picked an audience show member to dance, to participate in a magic show, and there was even a rigged chair that elevated on cue (it was so funny because the Japanese woman had no clue of what to do once her chair was in the air). Actually, during one of the chase scenes, one of the clowns came over and rubbed my head, spotlights beaming on both of us…and then did it again…nice touch.

Other noteworthy performances were the Double Balance Beam, these guys had such an acute sense of balance that they were able to do things you wouldn’t believe. And the Pickpocket, who used an audience member and proceeded to steal just about everything he had on him without him even knowing it (this guy was a pro!)…he did give everything back of course, or at least I think he did…


There’s not a whole lot of bad that I can say about this show. I was genuinely impressed by the musicians, singers, props, performers, etc. From A to Z the show was very well done. I must say though that I think the performers of this show seemed to specialize more on the balance aspect of acrobatics. As a result, the aerial maneuvers in the show, the trapeze & the tumbling, left little to be desired, but it kind of made the show what is was…a more intriguing/high-tension show.

I also think some of the segments with the chases, and the three clowns laughing, and being silly were a bit drawn out. The two clowns supporting the main clown got to be ちょっと annoying after a while,too.

The worst thing about Kooza, though, had nothing to do with the show itself…it was trying to get home afterwards…SWEET CHRIST!! Because the Funky Monkey Babys concert (a famous band here in Japan) finshished at the same time…there was quite a crowd. Please take a look in the video below.


If I had to sum up this version of the CDS (Cirque du Soleil) in a word, I would have to say “sexy.” All of the performances were just plain good, but this show was dripping with sexiness. The live singers and incredibly gifted musicians (I thought the trumpet players and drummers were superb) set the mood, the women’s costumes sparked the interest of the male patrons…I know they did for me (the hula hoop woman…sweet lord!) while the men’s muscles sparked the interest of the female spectators (the guy who did the chair-balancing act was in incredible shape…he was in such good shape, it made me grab me stomach and think “Damn…I need to workout more.”).

If you’re thinking of seeing the Cirque du Soleil play here in Japan, I would say “Go for it!” It’s money well spent.

Donald Ash

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