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Magician Rich Kameda at the 2015 Sakura Matsuri Festival

Magician will bring tricks, tradition to cherry blossom fest

for The Brooklyn Paper
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They’re the oldest tricks in the book — but with a new spin.

A Japanese-American magician will use his illusions — and his cultural heritage — when he performs at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival on April 26.

“I mainly perform classic magic pieces that have been around for decades,” said magician Rich Kameda, who will conjure up two shows at park’s annual Japanese culture extravaganza. “But when I perform them, I bring along my perspective of being a Japanese-American magician.”

For example, Kameda said, he begins one trick by mentioning famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. First, an audience member selects a card from a deck. Then Kameda draws a picture of a deck of cards. And then, seemingly by magic, the picture animates to show the selected card.

And in his closing trick, Kameda tears a Japanese newspaper several times. As he talks to the audience about the Japanese approach to the arts, the newspaper becomes whole again.

Kameda said he also studies Japanese magic texts to help craft his routine — a process that is sometimes slow and difficult, because many of the older books are written in Old Japanese.

“It’s like Old English and modern English,” said Kameda, who also calls himself the “Astonishing Asian.”

Kameda has been attending the Sakura Matsuri Festival since long before he first waved a magic wand. The trickster said he was at the very first festival when he was 12, helping out as his dad’s booth for the Japanese-American Lion’s Cub and also participating in a demonstration of kendo — a Japanese sword-based martial art. As an adult, he has performed at the celebration for the past four years, and says he loves the crowd that flocks to the gardens to revel in traditional and modern Japanese culture.

“My favorite part is the feedback I get from the audiences watching the show,” Kameda said.

This year’s festival, which runs April 25 and 26, will also feature dance, sword fighting, fashion shows, taiko drumming, manga comic workshops, and tea ceremonies, amongst many other performances and activities.

Rich Kameda at the 34th Sakura Matsuri Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [990 Washington Ave. between President and Carroll streets in Prospect Heights, (718) 623–7200, www.bbg.org]. April 26 at 2:15 pm and 4 pm. $25 ($20 students and seniors, free for kids under 12).

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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