MIDORI, Gunma Prefecture–A pandemic, a nuclear disaster, and a lack of profitability have not been strong enough forces to stop Japan’s only circus school from helping performers achieve their dreams.
The Sori international circus school is located deep in a mountain here in the city of Midori, located along Akagane (copper) road, which was once used to transport copper unearthed at the nearby Ashio Mine during the Edo Period (1603-1867).
It was founded 20 years ago by a stage director after he became enchanted watching an acrobatic performance, and now it is helping a former Japan Airlines Co. mechanic, a student, a model and other young people pursue careers in bringing smiles to people’s faces.
Naoki Yufu, 34, a resident of Oita and an ex-JAL mechanic, said the school “has made me what I am today.”
While working at Narita Airport, Yufu was inspired by a show put on by a circus company visiting from overseas during a holiday. He trained at Sori and learned from scratch how to maneuver an iron Cyr wheel, which is less than 2 meters in diameter, as if he was part of the tool.
“The vibrations that spectators create when they clap are comforting,” said Yufu, explaining the appeal of performing in circus shows.
Yufu has been traveling in France and Turkey, performing as a member of a Mongolian circus troupe…
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