If you watched America’s Got Talent in 2015, you’re sure to remember the energy and ingenuity of the Japanese dance group Siro-A.
|That Zentertainment – literally!|
Their rubber-band-tight choreography fused with a blaze of cutting-edge visuals and an incredibly eclectic soundscape to wow judges and audiences all the way to the semi-finals. Their imagination-powered performances made for an unforgettably psychedelic impact as the troupe twisted, leaped, somersaulted and jived in a dazzling, full-of-surprises interaction with the lights and lasers.
Just four years before Siro-A got an award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, just three years before Siro-A did a European tour, and a long-running show at the Leicester Square Theatre in London.
|A colorful welcome on the stage of That Zentertainment, Asakusa, Tokyo|
Fast-forward to 2017, and the amazingly lithe, imaginative and fun-loving boys from Sendai are now working their on-stage sorcery – with a big dash of comedy, dance, acrobatics and traditional Japaneseness – at the Rox 1 complex in Asakusa, Tokyo.
That’s ZENtertainment is a half-hour show that takes place several times a day just four minutes’ walk from the very famous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
My partner and I attended the 9pm show on Monday night. The venue is the Yumemachi Restaurant Theater on the 4th floor of the Rox 1 building. It’s a big, high-ceilinged space with tables that you sit around over drinks and snacks.
|Model of old Asakusa, Asakusa Rokku Yumemachi Theater foyer.|
|Antique advertisement collection in the foyer of the That’s ZENtertainment venue|
The foyer has the added attraction of a huge display of authentic antique commercial signs, and scale models of the Asakusa townscape from before it was destroyed by the 1923 Tokyo Earthquake.
The That’s ZENtertainment atmosphere is laid back and fun from the word go, with a friendly clown welcoming you in, singing me a snatch of a Maori song when he learned I was from New Zealand(!), taking our photo (cleverly incorporated later into the show) and making us feel very welcome and excited about what was to come.
|Tokyo 2020 Olympics skit at That’s ZENtertainment|
The show did not let us down. The dancing was dynamic, the visuals were spectacular, and the tricks played using sound and light were often jawdropping. Then the pace – the pace! We were on a rollercoaster being whizzed us through the kaleidoscope of color, dance and sound at gleeful speed, and we didn’t want it to stop.
As much as we (50+-year-old men) enjoyed it, it was a bit of a shame that there were no kids there that evening to appreciate the show, because the performance is a dream come true for under-18s brought up on electronic games and gadgets. Family entertainment extraordinaire!
|Parasol spectacle at That’s ZENtertainment|
But the icing on the That’s ZENtertainment cake, or, should I say, the flavor of the cake itself, is deliciously and traditionally Japanese. Much of the show’s appeal is how it blends complete mastery of the latest digital technology with a relaxed and thoroughgoing familiarity with age-old Japanese culture. There’s even a bit of a kanji class woven into the fun – but in a way that’s a million memorable miles from chalk dust and textbooks.
The amount of entertainment value packed into that half-hour is breathtaking. For 1,999 yen, including a drink, it was cheap at half the price.
|That’s me! That Zentertainment!|
That’s ZENtertainment is a must-do if you’re in Asakusa (which, if you’re visiting Tokyo, you’re almost sure to be). With up to six shows a day, it’s easy to slot That’s ZENtertainment into any schedule. If the Asakusa of temples, shrines, souvenirs, rickshaws and genteel old restaurants ever needed an extra dash of quintessentially 21st-century fun and color, That’s ZENtertainment is it!
|The curtain fall on a fabulous show – That Zentertainment|
Yumemachi Gekijo Restaurant Theater
Rox 1 Building, 4th floor,
1-25-15 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
That’s ZENtertainment website