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Japan’s mistress of illusion

Japan’s mistress of illusion

Class act: Famed Japanese illusionist Princess Tenko will bring her world-class act to Cambodia in January, performing shows at NagaWorld.

The first woman to be awarded Magician of the Year, singer, movie director, painter and illusionist Princess Tenko has even more tricks up her sleeve.

The show is not related to magic or the supernatural, because if you look from left, right, or behind, it is only illusion.

Like a princess in a Japanese cartoon, Princess Tenko’s beauty attracts her audience, who do not want to take their eyes off her.

Tenko’s beautiful face appears in a shroud of white smoke and soft red light – but is this effect just one of the tricks of her illusion show? Who knows – because with Princess Tenko, the boundaries between reality and illusion vanish.

If we see her from afar, she appears as a mercurial 20-year-old girl – but look a little closer and it is difficult to guess her age because her beauty has not faded.

What is known of Princess Tenko is that she was born Mariko Itakura in Arai, Japan, in 1959. And while Princess Tenko is a mere pseudonym for this famous Japanese illusionist, there is indeed a “real”cartoon princess by that name.

The US-produced Princess Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic ran from 1995-96. At the end of each installment, the “real” Princess Tenko (will the real Princess Tenko please stand up?) would appear on stage to teach a magic trick or perform an illusion. The world’s largest toymaker, Mattel, also produced a line of fashion dolls named after her.

Having mader her debut in Japan as a pop singer and actress, she is also known as a stage director, movie director, video photographer and painter.

Following the death of Hikita Tenko, a famous artist and illusionist in Japan, Princess Tenko was chosen from his apprentices as the heir to his name. She now performs an average of 300 shows per year worldwide.

The first woman to be awarded Magician of the Year from the Academy of Magic Arts in the United States, she has taken her place alongside renowned illusionists such as David Copperfield and Doug Henning.

Princess Tenko achieved worldwide fame following her debut at the Radio City Music Hall in the US in 1994 – and also performed in North Korea in 1998 and 2000 as part of the Friendship Art Festival in Pyongyang, stating that she wanted to meet Korean artists.

And now this princess of illusion is coming to perform at NagaWorld.

But Tenko says her audience should be under no illusions that what she does is no more than stagecraft.

“The show is not related to magic or the supernatural, because if you look from left, right or behind, it is only an illusion,” she said.

Speaking at a press conference at NagaWorld last Wednesday, Princess Tenko said her performances at the casino next month will be the first shows in the region for her and her group.

NagaWorld’s vice president of marketing, Eric Chan, said that by staging an event with such a well-known performer, organisers hoped to attract travellers to Cambodia.

“Especially Japanese travellers, because the show of Princess Tenko in Cambodia will also be broadcast in Japan,” Chan said.

She has taught her techniques to young people in China, and says she now has a wish to teach young Cambodian people as well.

“I am interested in young people here, and finding out about their interests,” Princess Tenko says.

“I am thinking of what I will show to interest them.”

The shows run from January 20 to 22 at 6:30pm. Tickets range from $65 to $75, and include a four-course dinner.


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