2008. After graduating from my university without getting a job, I was wondering what to do next. Well, I had to make money, first of all. However, the question was, how do I do that with juggling? At the time, I could only think of three options: winning the JJF, which was – still is – the most prestigious competition in Japan, getting a busking license in Tokyo, or becoming a busker somewhere else. Well, let’s try busking.. that was all I could do right away.
I tried it around places where I had a good sense of the locality, such as a shopping mall in Saitama, and the Tama Center in Tokyo where I used to live. The places that I chose had large space, and were not too conspicuous. It sounds like I was trying to commit a crime. To be honest, indeed it felt a bit like I was committing a crime because I hadn’t got any permission. I was nervous, but I went there somehow determined to live on juggling, and also kept telling myself that I am going to show how amazing juggling is.
As a result, it worked better than I expected in terms of making money. I put some fancy music, did some flashy tricks, and finished it cool, then the audience liked it to some extent. However, I didn’t get the reactions that I truly wanted to get, because it was not that they appreciated my pure juggling skill, but rather it seemed like they were just kind and curious about juggling itself since it was not something common to see.
I didn’t feel bad on the street in general actually, but once when I was performing in a corner of the park I used to hang out, a security guy approached to me to tell not to perform because it was an area for professionals. Of course I knew it was not good, but it was also true that I’d been playing in the park since I was a child, so I couldn’t help feeling angry about it. I remember that since then I felt even more isolated from the society.
I kept trying to busk for a couple of months, then I gave up. I felt that juggling, performance, and money didn’t have to be connected, and busking wasn’t what I had to do. I started working part-time at a nearby warehouse, thinking what to do, and started just practicing juggling every day.
I wanted to live on juggling, but I couldn’t see how. Busking on the street made me feel even more lonely and anxious. Although at the same time, I still had an unfounded hope that something would happen. I still can’t forget how I felt back then.
Translated by Naoya Aoki
This post was written for the PONTE’s e-zine.