24 May 2011
Updates as of March 2013: Mark Itohara has gone back to Japan last year and no longer performing in Melbourne.
Ninja action magician Mark Itohara arrives!
Mark Itohara is a ninja action magician who arrived in Melbourne a few weeks ago so as to relocate his performance base from Japan to overseas. Let's hear the story of Mark.
-First of all, please tell us what kind of things you did before coming to Melbourne.
I have been in Japan's show business for 25 years and have really experienced different fields of the entertainment industry. Apart from performing in Japan, I have also performed as Japan's representative in the world's largest musical "Starlight Express", which is supervised by the Royal Family,
-Why did you join the show business?
I started as a stuntman in my show business career because of my admiration for Jackie Chan and my aspiration in becoming an action star. I joined an agency and acted on stages, but what I really wanted to do was to perform in action movies like Jackie Chan. But it wouldn't be possible if I don't succeed in Japan's show business first. I even became a roller skate idol to gain popularity.
When I won an audition programme, I took the chance and left my agency. Since then, I have been carrying on activities on my own without an agent. Not only did the TV programme that I performed in got the highest rating, it also received prizes. However, as I continue to perform on my own, I started to become doubtful on the way some things are in Japan's show business.
-When did you start thinking about moving into overseas' market?
I actually started thinking about this about 20 years ago when I performed in Starlight Express. I feel that the value of an entertainer is totally different in Japan and overseas. I have been after a real show business that values performances fairly so I always had the advancement into overseas market in the back of my mind.
As I was contemplating about this, I met Sho Kosugi. I got along really well with Sho, and he gave me the middle name of Mark. It was the first time he named someone other than his family. I have been using Mark as my stage name from that point on.
I trained with Kane Kosugi and performed on TV. At the same time, I also performed on stage at a large show pub situated in Roppongi. I thought that it would be a bit dull with actions only so I started the performance of actions combined with magic.
This may not be well known to all but real ninjas back in Taihei Era in the Edo Period didn't carry out secret missions; instead they were actually working in the entertainment industry. Ninjas who were good at ninjutsu were actually performing magic. Ninjas who were good at acrobat performed in circus, and those who were good at fire acted as pyrotechnists. All I'm doing is putting forth these types of ninjas into a modern style.
-You have been considering performing overseas for sometime so how come you chose to do so now, and how come you chose Melbourne as your destination?
I didn't know the way of moving overseas for some time. Although I have studied overseas for a few times, it was difficult to obtain the visas.
Then this year's Great Eastern Japan Earthquake made a huge difference. People like us who work in the entertainment industry face a huge decline in workload. As a result, I thought I would try out the overseas challenge that I have been considering for some time. At that time, a friend of mine who is also a ninja told me to come to Melbourne and that I can try busking here.
There are other reason of choosing Melbourne, including a fortuneteller's recommendation saying that Melbourne is a place that allows my talents to thrive, and also because Jackie Chan has shot movies here before.
I will first make a living while busking, making friends eventually and receiving information. I will then find an agency in order to enter the Melbourne market. I believe Melbourne is the place for me to grasp opportunities.
-When do you plan on starting your performances now that you have received your busking permit?
I want to start as soon as possible. I really want to see everyone's reaction towards my performances as the one and only ninja magician.
-Please say something to the readers at the end.
Basically I want to promote Japan and show Melbourne what real ninjas are like!
After the interview, Mark performed magic for us.
Mark will be performing around city for four days a week, from 1pm to 4pm. Please come and see his vivacious magic!
Anyone who wishes to see the performance of Ninja action magic, please contact to firstname.lastname@example.org