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The big show under the Big Top in Naha

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2005-02-18

Circuses have been around since the days of Pompey’s Rome, complete with lions, pachyderms and chariot races.

On Okinawa, the Kinoshita Circus is winding down a 2-month big top extravaganza in Naha, but it’s not too late to get tickets and take the family, as the shows continue until Feb. 26. The Kinoshita Circus is making its first appearance on the island in seven years, and the afternoon presentations are worth the experience.

Kinoshita Circus operates, literally, under the big top, in Naha’s Omoromachi new town. 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.

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 Cost

The Kinoshita Circus performs daily, except Thursday, through February 28th. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday performances are at 11am and 1:30pm. Friday shows are at 1pm and 3:40pm. Saturday, Sunday and holiday shows are at 10:30am, 1:10pm and 3:50pm.

Tickets are reasonably priced for the 90-minute performances. Adult advance tickets are ¥2,300, or ¥2,600 at the door. Youth tickets for those 3~15 years of age are ¥1,300 in advance or ¥1,500 at the door.

You can purchase tickets at Lawson, Family Part and Hot Spar convenience stores, A Coop, San-A in Hanby Town and Main City Gushikawa, Tsutaya, Marudai Supermarkets, Bookbox, NTT Dokomo shops, Toyo bus office and Fukuhara Music Store.

Getting There

There are several ways to Omoromachi, located on the Naha northside. Traveling south on Highway 58, entering Ameku look for the signs to Omoromachi and turn left. As you approach San-A Naha Main Place, the circus grounds and the bright red circus tent will be on your right. Before then, though, you’ll see many signs directing visitors to parking lots. All are within 10 minutes walk of the circus.

Traveling south on the expressway, get off at Exit 1 and turn right onto Highway 82. At Highway 330, turn left and continue south to Omoromachi. At the Omoromachi monorail station, at the intersection with DFS Galleria, turn right to the circus grounds.

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