Big show under Big Top in Okinawa
By Bill Charles
Circuses have been around since the days of Pompey’s Rome, complete with lions, pachyderms and chariot races.
On Okinawa, the Kinoshita Circus is coming in for a two -month big top extravaganza starting Dec. 1 in Toyosaki in Tomigusuku City, and tickets are already on sale so you can take the family. The shows go on through Feb. 3.
The circus is making its first appearance on the island in eight years, and the afternoon presentations are worth the experience.
Kinoshita Circus operates, literally, under the big top, in a special space at Toyosaki, just behind the Toyosaki Chura Sun Beach. Once inside though, the thrills never stop, and the ultra modern lighting displays are spectacular. They compliment the excitement of the lions, tigers and leopards, elephants and zebras, the aerial acrobatics on the high wire and trapeze, not to mention the laugh-a-minute antics of the circus clowns.
Those clowns are all Clown College graduates and former Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus performers. From traditional Japanese acrobatics to a South American troupe, to the daredevil motorcycle riders racing around an enclosed sphere, this circus promises adventure for young and old alike.
There are ten program elements to the circus this season, opening with Beauty and Beast Super Illusion and the web rope show. There’s an Amazing Safari spectacle, Miracle White Lions Wild Animal Act, the star of the circus show and a death defying motorcycle globe. Of course there are the adorable Thai elephants, the artistic spectacle of the Double Flying Trapeze and the Wheel of Death. Russian Aerial Acrobatic Trapeze is back with the aerial artistry on the silver rings, and an original Japanese act, Kabuki Kyogen Kuzunoha is on the sliding tightrope. Add in the Seven Chairs Show, supreme balance on the tightwire, and the Unicycle Parade of Ladies, balancing on a swaying bamboo pole, Charivari with the Super Cats, and Kudakebachigo, Hashigo.
Pay special attention to White Lion, the animal act on the third program. White lions are a rare species, with only an estimated 300 in the wild. Many say they’re a messenger of God in Africa, holding the mission of protecting and promoting the world. These four, all born at a Great Britain Zoo in 2008, have been kept at a breeding facility since they were six months old. They’ve been with the circus since their debut in Kagoshima Prefecture in 2010.
A Long Tradition
The Kinoshita Circus is one of the largest in the world, carrying on the traditions begun centuries ago. Unlike early Roman circuses which featured wild and exciting performers battling to the death for their freedom, and animal duels and breathtaking chariot races, today’s circuses are safe and family oriented.
Modern day circuses caught hold in Britain when a British cavalry officer became caught up in fancy equestrian events. He engineered to circus ring, roped off a field, and invited the public. Philip Astley then added clowns, then covered part of the ring with a shed and added seats. From there, the other acts including juggling, tumbling and rope events became the basic ingredients of the circus.
Later in the 1800’s, permanent equestrian shows were replaced by traveling units that used tents. Progress brought the wagons, then trucks and trains, to carry the circus to the people. And as people continue to appreciate the skills of these performers, troupes and individuals from every continent vie for positions with the 25 top circuses operating in Asia, the United States, Europe, South America, Australia and even Ethiopia in Africa.
The Kinoshita Circus performs daily, except Thursdays, New Year’s Eve and January 3rd. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday performances are at 11 a.m. and 1:40 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 and New Year Day shows are at 1 p.m and 3:40 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holiday shows are at 10:20 a.m, 1:00 p.m. and 3:40 p.m.
Tickets are reasonably priced for the nearly two-hour performances. Adult advance tickets are ¥2,400, or ¥2,700 at the door. Youth tickets for those 3~15 years of age are ¥1,400 in advance or ¥1,600 at the door. Ringside reserved seats are also available. Ringside A are an additional ¥2,000, Ringside B ¥1,500, Ringside C and Royal Blue seats ¥1,200 more, and Royal yellow seats are an additional ¥1,000. Special free seats are an extra ¥800.
You can purchase tickets at Lawson, Family Mart and Ticket Pia stores.
Toyosaki is located just south of Naha Airport. Go past the airport towards Itoman keeping the main road closest to the coast. Once on the bridge that takes you to the landfill area, start looking to your right for the Big Top in the distance to close to the shoreline.