July 7, 2008
Kevin Horton, Dancer, Corrib Company
The last two weeks of our month long stay in Tokyo went very well. Even with our busy schedule of 8 shows per week, the cast was able to continue seeing the sites of Tokyo. The city is so vast, even 4 weeks is not enough time to see it all. On our third Monday off, we found ourselves up at 8 am and on the train to Tokyo Disneyland to partake in the parks 25th anniversary celebration. The buzz among the cast was well alive with excitement for Mickey, yet we were a tad disappointed with the excessive amounts of people crowding the park. I have never seen this many people crammed into one place before, it was actually quite comical; there was even a 15-minute line for the popcorn stand. Aside from the masses taking over the park and queuing for hours on end for the most famous of the Disney rides, the day turned out to be an adventure to say the least. Oh, and we never got to see Mickey.
While in Tokyo, we were honored to have the Imperial Empress of Japan visit the show. Many weeks of preparation by the promotion company and the Riverdance office led up to her arrival. She was seated in the front row of the balcony and her security detail were all over the theatre. Joe Moriarty and Siobhan Manson, two of our principle dancers, were able to have a “meet and greet” with the Empress after the show and a champagne reception followed. The show went very well and we were told from Joe and Siobahn that she really enjoyed the performance.
As you can imagine, being on tour is not like any other job in the world. Most days are spent either touring the different sites or resting up for the show. One of my favorite things in Tokyo was the Fish Markets. The only thing that made seeing this difficult was the fact that leaving the hotel at 4:30 am was essential in order to get the real feel of being in the midst of the famous fish trading. This rainy day felt like the set of movie. Carts with massive slabs of tuna, every type of sea creature imaginable, fish traders annoyed with tourists taking photographs, and a smell you wouldn’t believe are just some of the highlights at the market. Yes, the smell was horrendous, but something not to be missed.
Japan is known for their selection of electronics that no one else has in the world. The district of Tokyo that contained all the latest gadgets was Akihabara. There are many streets and alley ways filled with the latest technology, most of which are not available yet in other parts of the world. Many of the cast walked away with some new toys, unfortunately I declined a camera purchase and as soon as we left Tokyo, my camera broke! I’ll see what they have in China. A main attraction in Akihabara is Yodobashi-Akiba, an eight-story electronics megastore. There were rows and rows of gadgets on display with most of them testers, which meant an hour could be easily spent on every floor. I especially loved the massage chair section!
After the last show in Tokyo, something happened that I have never seen before in Riverdance. After the final bows and stage exits, the audience would not leave. They continued to clap until Jason Oremus, one of our principle dancers, went back on stage for a final bow. The crowd went wild with excitement and it was a great way to end our 4-week run in Tokyo. A closing night party followed at a local Restaurant, Sam and Dave’s, and then it was on to Nagoya. We all hope to be back to Tokyo soon!
Nagoya was the next stop on our tour and it was just a quick 2-hour journey on the bullet train. Located on the Pacific coast of Japan, Nagoya was a city rich of history and had many activities to partake in. Just two stops from the theatre was Nagoya Castle. This was built in 1612 and had an interesting history. Most of the castle grounds were destroyed from fires after the bombings of World War II, so in 1959, the castle was restored with new and modern amenities. It did feel strange taking an elevator to the top of a castle that was built almost 400 years ago. There was a great view of Nagoya from the top and the museum in the castle offered insight into the castle’s history.
Since we were in Tokyo for 4 weeks, the one-week stay in Nagoya flew by. However, we were able to fit in a day at Nagashima Spaland Theme Park, which is just on the outskirts of Nagoya. This was quite a change from Tokyo Disneyland, because the park was virtually empty. 36 of the cast went and enjoyed a day of roller coasters and other thrill rides with the longest line only about 5 minutes long. No queuing is always a plus! At Nagashima, the main attraction is the Steel Dragon 2000 roller coaster, which holds the record for the tallest, longest, and one of the fastest steel structure coasters in the world. In my opinion, the 4 times we rode this coaster were not enough. It was a great day overall and a fun way to end our time in Nagoya.
Next will be our fist split week of tour in Niigata and Toyama. Until then…
Welcome back to Japan, Riverdance!
Riverdance - Four Fast-Paced Cities in 2 weeks!