3550 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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How an American Acrobat Introduced Circus to Japan—and Japan to the West

Author Fred L. Schodt discusses Professor Risley who introduced circus to Japan.

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On New Year’s Eve, 1866, Professor Risley arrived in San Francisco from Yokohama, Japan. He was accompanied by the Imperial Japanese Troupe of acrobats and performers, who under his direction would amaze not only the residents of San Francisco, but tour the East Coast, meet the President of America, and entertain huge audiences in both America and in Europe.

Risley was a famous acrobat in his own right, and the story of how he introduced circus to Japan, and how he triggered a craze in Japanese performers in the West (and contributed to the Japonisme movement), is part of a fasci­nating lost-but-recently-uncovered history. In a presentation heavily illustrated with photographs and drawings, Frederik L. Schodt will reveal the story of Risley and his troupe, who gave the world one of its first glimpses of Japanese popular culture.  In 2013, Schodt’s book, Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe: How an American Acrobat Introduced Circus to Japan—And Japan to the West, won the Circus Historical Society’s Stuart Thayer Prize.


Frederik L. Schodt is an award-winning author of numerous non-fiction books on the convergence of Japanese and American cultures, with subjects ranging from manga to technology to history. He is also a well-known translator of Japanese manga and literature, and a conference interpreter in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2009 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for helping to introduce and promote Japanese contemporary popular culture. His website is http://www.jai2.com  (profile @ http://www.jai2.com/fredbio.htm | biblio @ http://www.jai2.com/Mybiblio.htm ). Information on Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe can be found at http://jai2.com/risley-imps.html.

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