Metropolis Magazine
Issue #805 - Friday, Aug 28th, 2009
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Past Issues

804: Rent, The original stars of the Broadway musical
803: Roland Emmerich, Director
802: Miss Universe Japan, Emiri Miyasaka
801: Dog days
800: Bolt
799: Actor, Hiroshi Mikami
798: Yuko Aoyama
797: Return of the bots
796: The Terminator cast
795: Actress Saki Takaoka
794: Okinawan actress Meisa Kuroki
793: J. J. Abrams and Star Trek cast
792: Zac Efron
791: Science Friction
790: Junichi Ishida
789: Daisuke Nakata, Trampolinist
788: Kazuaki Kiriya, Director
787: Nana Natsume, Former AV star
786: Eugene Otani, Newscaster
785: Love at first bite
784: Miki Mizuno
783: Tom Cruise
782: Jun Hasegawa, Model
781: Moe Oshikiri, Model attitude
780: Grace Park of Battlestar Galactica
779: Where there's a Will
778: Jolie good time
777: Age before beauty
776: Streep talk
775: World of difference
774: Shocks and Bonds
773: Viva La Revolucin
772: Jacqui Bayne
768: Beyond the universe
767: Yasuhito Endo
766: Aroon Mahtani
765: Dr. Hidemi Akai
764: Badr Hari
763: Mizuki Kubodera
761: Patrick W. Galbraith
760: Jean-Pierre Felix
759: Philippe Grau
758: Emi Kashiwara & Elekiteru
757: Aura Virginia Chirculescu
756: Aaron Davis
755: Happy days
754: Bryan Au
753: Martin van der Linden
752: Qinggelete
751: Chuck Johnson
750: Mike Applegate (aka Magic Mike)
749: Yukie Kito
748: Steve Kaufmann
746: Samira Zarghami
745: Raising the Bar
744: Pierre-Gilles Delorme
743: David F. Hoenigman
742: Miwa Gardner
741: Kevin Cooney
740: Kyle Cleveland
739: JJ
738: Bruce Stronach
737: Yoichiro Dennis Ide
736: Mike Garrett
735: Hiroki Suehara
734: Rise and Shrine
733: Patrik Washburn
732: Michael Bumgardner
731: Patricia Bader-Johnston
730: Darin Maki
729: Hiroshi Fujimaki
728: Misha Janette
727: Jon Mitchell
725: Hokuto Konishi
724: Rita Lamah Hankach
723: Kisui Nakazawa
722: Angela Jeffs
721: Simon Wood
720: Yasuko Yokoyama
715: Jason Kelly
714: Dominica Serigano
713: Erik Gain
712: Genevieve Maylam
711: Masahiro Gono
710: Eikou Sumura
709: Eikou Sumura
708: Malcolm Thompson
707: Makiko Tsuji
706: Dominic Allen
705: Maria Heitanen
704: Beckie Cassidy
703: Jett Edwards
702: Yoshinobu Furuichi
701: Silvestre Jacobi
700: Jah-Light Sound System
699: Daniel Velazques
698: Lynne Charles
697: Eric Bragg
695: Susan Nichols
694: Anna Kunnecke
693: Kenneth Pechter
692: Kazu Wakui
691: Antonio Inoki
690: Hiroko Noguchi
689: Richard Bysouth
688: Eric Bjorndahl
687: Andrew Shuttleworth
686: Sayuri Suzuki
685: Yurie Hatanaka
684: Miogi Takii
683: Thierry Cohen
682: Ahmed M. Elmardi
681: Aya Kitagawa
680: Suzanne Ng and Yoriko Soma
679: Ricco DeBlank
677: Takenari Shibata
676: Kirk R. Patterson
675: Satoko Yahata
674: Flavia Nishimura
673: Ryo Shoji
672: Chip Eckton
671: Yuko Ito
670: Marja Kullberg
669: Laur Meyrieux
668: Slavomir Stanislaw Kowalewski
667: Ryan McGuire
664: Life force
663: Steve Marshall
662: Jeff Klein
661: Ahn Soon Han
660: Straight shooter
659: Marcello Pietrantonio
658: Glitterball 2006
657: Alison Roberts-Brown
656: Girl on the go
655: Rob Hoey
654: Kahori Ochi
653: Ed Wells
652: Haruka Orth
651: Laura Cook
650: Uleshka Asher
649: Full speed ahead
648: Katsumi Namekata
647: Top talent
646: No heels, no life
645: Joanna Roper
644: Lu Nagata
643: Kirill Konin
642: Gabriele Roberto
641: Carlos Gibbs
640: Blair Falahey
639: The Three Waiters
638: Simon Woodroffe
637: Tony Virili
636: Paul W. Creager
635: Randy Channell
634: Mari Takeuchi
633: Stephanie Schueller
632: Tara Tan Kitaoka
631: Katherine Mok
630: Bob Tobin and Hitoshi Ohashi
629: Tommy Kullberg
628: Toshio Nagashima
627: Eiko Kondo
626: Embrey Ramon Williams
625: Neil Day
624: Mong-Lan
623: Tor Hideki Kashio
622: Elizabeth Heilman Brooke
621: Louis Carlet
620: Theo Panagiotoulias
619: Lionel Gougne
618: Sarajean Rossitto
617: Christian Hassing
616: Kiho Takashima
614-615: David Wagner
613: Heather Stuart
612: Erica Angyal
611: Jack McLean
610: Fumine Yakumo
609: Yasutoshi Hirabayashi
608: Yoko Hijikata
607: Jim Frederick
605: Yuka Murakami
604: Chayne Ellis
603: Marco Antonio Nakata
602: Kicking Back
601: Stand by your man
600: Hero worship
599: The Candy man
598: Heart strings
597: Sweet and sour
596: Subtitle subtleties
595: The right moves
594: Mother’s day
593: The clone ranger
592: A career kicks off
591: Woman of substance
590: Final conflict
589: World Ready for ‘War’
588: Fun in the sun
587: New life for an old hero
586: Fun and games
585: Knockout punch
584: Patrick’s day
583: Marcia marches on
582: Brunch break
581: Kingdom come
580: Gentle as a beast
579: Prime time
578: Devil of a time
577: In first Gere
576: Bright spark
575: Rei of sunshine
574: A star is reborn
573: In search of geisha
572: Marshall law
571: In the Nic of time
570: Holding a grudge
569: Bourne again
568: Soap opera
567: Alexander and friends
566: Oceans apart
565: A night at the opera
564: Just joshing
563: McPain in the neck
561-562: Hanks for everything
560: Reading between the Klines
559: Risqué business
558: Sky highs
557: Korean boom
556: Queen Victoria
555: Glitter Ball
554: Peter Miller
553: Ralph Frehner
552: Dimension K
551: Tokyo Game Show
550: US Embassy
549: I, Robot Premiere
548: Mauve
547: Xterra Japan
546: Earth Celebration
545: Idée R-bar
544: Laforet Museum
543: Hara Museum
542: Fuji Rock Festival’04
541: Bunkamura Museum of Art

By Sarah Cortina

Jump High
Trampolinist Daisuke Nakata breaks records and charms audiences in Muscle Musical

© D9. Photos by Itaru Saito

Daisuke Nakata has appeared in music videos, competed in the Olympics and holds the Guinness World Record for the longest slam dunk from a trampoline (6.3 meters). This last achievement comes courtesy of his experience as a performer in Muscle Musical, a stage extravaganza featuring circus-style feats of strength and skill. In its eight-year history, which includes a stint in Las Vegas, the show has attracted a number of other former Olympians to its cast, including synchronized swimmer Miho Takeda.

Nakata, 35, has been performing in the musical since 2003, making him one of the show’s longest-serving cast members. Yet he admits that joining the troupe wasn’t his idea. “I didn’t want to do it, but I was sort of tricked into going to the audition and then I got accepted,” he says. Nakata’s initial reluctance didn’t last long, however. “The very first time I stood on stage, the energy of the audience was just amazing. It was really moving to realize how much joy my performance could bring to others—there are even people who cry sometimes!”

While trampolining in front of a raucous crowd may still be a relatively new experience for Nakata, the sport itself is not. Thanks mostly to the influence of his trampoline-coach father, he’s been practicing since the tender age of three. With the exception of a brief flirtation with soccer in junior high, he hasn’t looked back. When trampoline debuted as an Olympic event at the 2000 Sydney Games, no one was surprised when Nakata snagged one of the 12 spots offered to competitors from around the world. As a multiple world title holder—and reportedly the only man capable of executing a quadruple somersault with a half-twist—he was a strong medal contender. But just ten days before the competition, disaster struck: Nakata suffered serious injuries when he fell from a height of 6 meters during a practice session. “I wasn’t in any condition to compete,” he says, though he decided to perform anyway and finished dead last. “That’s a very painful memory.”

However, it’s not Nakata’s Olympic efforts that have made him a familiar name to many Westerners. The performer is best known abroad as a regular competitor in the athletic obstacle course extravaganza Sasuke, an edited version of which is aired in the US and Europe under the title Ninja Warrior. Nakata has raced the obstacle course ten times and made it to the Third Stage on four of these, a feat he attributes to the physical abilities derived from his trampoline training. “The First Stage is fun, but everything after that is brutal,” he says, adding: “I think it would be fun if there was an event like that in the Olympics, though.”

Nakata hasn’t been seen on Sasuke much in recent years, largely due to a 2004 accident that almost ended his athletic career. “I was on my way home after a Muscle Musical show, when I was hit by a car. It was a hit-and-run,” he says. “I injured my spinal cord and I couldn’t move my arms and legs.” After extensive rehabilitation, Nakata has returned to peak physical condition—he achieved the Guinness World Record after recovering from the accident—with one exception. “Even a really weak girl will have a ‘grip strength’ of about 25, but mine isn’t even that high,” he says, referring to a commonly used conditioning scale. While strong hands certainly aren’t a necessity for trampolining, the injury has kept him out of the later stages of Sasuke.

As someone who has competed and performed all over the world, Nakata has noticed big differences between foreign and Japanese audiences. “There are parts of the show where we bang out a rhythm on our bodies and the audience responds. But I was surprised that foreign audiences are rather shy, and they don’t clap along. But when they really enjoyed something, the applause was amazing.”
The so-called “body-slap,” where cast members create complex rhythms by smacking their chests or legs, is an original feature of Muscle Musical. But Nakata admits that all the strategy in the world can’t spare them from the sheer physicality of the moves. “My skin has become very thick now,” he said, “but when I first started, there were hand-shaped bruises on my chest for months.”

Given that performing in the show is such a demanding and grueling experience, just how long does Nakata intend to continue with it? “If I could, I’d love to do this forever. But with Muscle Musical, we make the tricks harder every year. Unlike other circuses or musicals, we can’t just do the same thing over and over. We’re always adding something extra to what came before. So when the time comes that I can’t keep up with the level of performance, then I’ll have to quit.”

The current Muscle Musical show, Treasure, is being performed through June 14 in Shibuya. See stage listings for details.

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