A tale for our times starring Ninja
By Jim Merk

Start with "Romeo and Juliet", add the choreography and singing of "West Side Story", change the ending so there are no winners or losers, and you have Sho Kosugi's "The Ninjas from Hollywood Japan Tour 2001".

Sho Kosugi is Japan's most famous living ninja. After winning martial arts tournaments around the world, he turned his attention to acting. He has starred in more than 11 movies in which his martial arts talents get used to the fullest. In addition, he has been featured in dozens of other films (not always for his martial arts expertise). He has directed a movie and produced others as well. This month he brings his Hollywood studio students to Japan to refresh the image of ninja and bring some good fun.

Weekender caught up with Kosugi while he was prepping his shows and got a few insights into the production.

Tokyo Weekender: If you would, please sketch out the story you are bringing to Tokyo.

Sho Kosugi: It is based on "West Side Story", but involves 'gangs' of ninja - one from New York and one from Los Angeles.

TW: Who wins?

SK: Well, as this is a family production, I didn't want to have a winner and a loser. So there are no winners and losers. I don't want to give too much away, but there is a god of Peace and War who gets involved and gets everybody to finish peacefully.

TW: You say this is a family production. What will be good for the family to see?

SK: Ninja aren't the fighters you may think they are; they were trained in the art of deception and, of course, escape and self-defense. Think of them as James Bond types. True ninja were among the first users of gunpowder. They would use the fireworks to distract the enemy and make their escape. In our production, we will have lots of magical appearances and disappearances. The costumes are very colorful and there is always some kind of action going on. Kids will love it.

We will also have Bernard Jackson singing songs. He is the person who recorded the hit, "Shower Me With Your Love" and has a great voice. I think audiences will like him a lot, too.

TW: Since this features Hollywood ninja, will the dialogue be in English?

SK: Yes, it will. I think this will be great for the foreign community here - a ninja show in English near the Tokyo Tower.

TW: Is there a special role for the writer?

SK: Actually, I have a couple of roles in the production - fun ones.

TW: Let me guess, God of Peace and War?

SK: That is one, but the others will have to wait for the show.

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