Angela Jones

Angela JonesOccupation:
Fire dancer

Time in Japan:
2 years

Where are you from?
New Zealand.

What brought you to Japan?
I' a traveller and I just wanted to experience Tokyo and Japan.

What do you do?
I'm a performer. I perform with fire, usually at outdoor festivals and events. I also make toys.

What made you start dancing with fire?
I'd been playing with magic sticks for a while, and one day I lit them and that was it. I love everything about it, the sound, the way it looks, the thrill when you feel the fire rushing by you. It's really beautiful to watch.

Have you ever been burnt?
Just a few times, but they were very minor burns. You have to have full respect for the fire; you can't play with it lightly. As long as you're aware of the safety precautions-like not wearing flammable clothes, tying your hair back, wearing a hat, that sort of thing-it's OK. I've been performing with fire for quite a long time and I still have long hair.

What does fire mean to you?
It's the freedom of dance. It's almost magical. It's airy. You've got all the elements-earth, wind, air and fire, and if you're playing on the beach you've got the water too. It's really a creative thing, because fire's always changing; every performance is different. I especially love dancing to live music.

Where do you perform in Japan and do you get a different reaction from the Japanese compared to Western audiences?
I find the audiences here in Japan are more reserved, they won't show their feelings as much as Western audiences-no hooting and hollering-but the comments I get afterwards are really nice.

You also manufacture toys?
Yes. I make toys that don't require batteries, toys that can be played with in black light, and fire toys which people can play with anywhere. The main reason I started this was because I personally needed toys to play with for my performances.

Do you have any advice for people who want to try fire dancing?
It's crucial to find someone who knows how to play and who can teach it the right way, including the right precautions and the right tricks of the trade because there are many. Just contact me and I can teach you everything.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen or experienced here in Japan?
There are so many weird things here. It's all weird and bizarre although it all gradually becomes normal. If I was to name something, it would be the times I see people dressing up for their graduation. Once I saw some guy dressed up as a bowling pin, another as the devil with his trident, poking people as he walked along.

What do you want to experience in Japan that you haven't so far?
I want to see more beautiful Japanese gardens.

What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Get outside; go visit the temples and the gardens; take a boat to get a different view of Tokyo.

Email Angela at or see her website:

Angela Jones spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at

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