Showing posts with label Kiraku brothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kiraku brothers. Show all posts

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Kiraku Brothers in Australia 1935


The Kiraku brothers, Risley performers who juggled with their feet, arrived in Australia in March 1935. The pair, Kamejiro Yoshida, aged 38, and Hirokichi Fuji, 35, were imported from London where they were performing regularly in theatres and music halls.

Hiro was from Gefu and had been apprenticed to an acrobatic troupe, The Hamamura troupe, by his uncle when he was ten. Kamejiro, from Kyoto, the older performer, was also a graduate of the same school. Both were sons of farmers and they had travelled the world as acrobats since they were children.

Tivoli owner Frank Neil paid a bond of 200 pounds to insure them before they appeared on Australian stages. He also committed to providing food, clothing and medical care and swore that their appearance would incur no cost to the Commonwealth.

Signed photo in my collection

Their first performances were in Western Australia, and they were sensational.

They took the stage costumed in tennis gear. Kamejiro- the older and stockier, in blue coat and trousers  and Hiro in a quirky hat with yellow buttonhole. Hiro provided the laughs, whilst Kamejiro was the base. The act began with Hiro performing some handsprings, then Kamejiro lay on his back on a couch and began to twirl his partner with his feet. The hardest trick was the foot to foot, where Hiro performed a full somersault landing with his feet on Kamejiro’s feet.

 Kamejiro then moved to the floor where he caught Hiro on his hands and ‘while supporting him in an upright position, rolled across the stage.’ The reviewer of the show was astounded by this feat of strength.

The Kirakus were immensely popular in Western Australia, but their stay was short. They were due to tour the east coast in a revue, Birds of the Night. However, before they left the west, Hiro authored an article for the local paper. In it, Hiro said that he preferred to be identified as a gymnast rather than an acrobat, as acrobats wore tights whilst he and Kamejiro wore flannels. He also detailed long and painful training sessions, broken bones, cut lips, concussions and endless hours of practice. He described his partner, who he called Kame, as like his brother and both as ‘happy go lucky.’ The full article is here.

From the newspapers- probably in costume

 In the last week of their stay in Perth, Hiro sprained a tendon in his foot, but he performed the next night with a smile. He had been on stage since childhood and was well acquainted with the painful repercussions of the Risley life.

The pair arrived in Melbourne in April. They were immediately employed in the revue ‘Birds of the Night,’ which starred Mrs Frank Neil. They were described as ‘probably the finest acrobatic turn ever presented at this theatre,’ and were undoubtedly the stars of the show.

They performed in Sydney in July and were warmly greeted. They stayed for the whole month and left the country in August.

Although their visit was brief, the Kirakus were widely regarded as one of the best Risley acts to perform in Australia. Their reception was particularly warm in Western Australia where they were photographed and interviewed. Their association with the Tivoli Theatre ensured their success with Australian audiences.

They returned to England and performed in pantomime and variety until 1940. Hiro was interned during the war while it appears that Kamejiro returned to Japan. Hiro died in England in 1968.

I used this excellent website about Japanese performers as a contributing source for this article.