It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the beginning, but it sure turned out that way in the end!

As you might have heard, the international hit Japanese variety TV show Takeshi’s Castle made a triumphant return for the first time in 34 years on April 21, and six of our wacky Japanese-language reporters were lucky enough to participate in it. But our most intrepid reporter, Mr. Sato, didn’t actually want to participate.

A number of factors had almost made him regret signing up. For one, he’d been told to expect a very long day on set. They had to show up super early and would only be released just in time for the last train at the end of the day. They couldn’t leave the set at all until filming was over. Such expectations weighed rather heavily on Mr. Sato, and it just didn’t sound like something he’d enjoy.

To make matters worse, a culmination of circumstances leading up to the day of filming made Mr. Sato just feel like it was more trouble than it was worth to go. It had been raining, with the prediction of a steady downpour, and Mr. Sato and his fellow reporters were committed to wearing only a fundoshi loincloth for the full day (and for the later premier), which would probably be miserable in the rain.

“Why do I have to do this?” Mr. Sato grumbled on the train, fervently hoping for the day to go by fast.

But that all changed when he arrived at Midoriyama Studio, where the show would be filmed. The huge space was decked out like a theme park!

It was hard to believe that they’d built so many props just for one TV show. Mr. Sato couldn’t help but come to a shocking realization that he’d stepped onto a genuine and very intense filming set.

And it wasn’t only the number of facilities that shocked him. The sheer number of participants and staff was insane too. Altogether there had to be 500-600 people there. It was like some kind of wild festival, and all of its color and bustle served to drive Mr. Sato’s melancholia away.

Over 300 of those people were contestants. Not all of them were from Japan, and they were of all ages too, including those who were too young to have ever seen the original and those who actually competed in the show before it went off the air 34 years ago.

They were all strangers to Mr. Sato, connected only by the fact that they were all on the attacking team. But even though they didn’t know each other, they all cheered for each other, encouraged each other, and celebrated each other’s wins. Somehow, they’d all developed a bond.

Forming such a connection after just meeting someone…Mr. Sato had to admit he’d never experienced anything like it in his adult life. It was like he’d gone back in time and become a student again, aiming to compete in a major competition and working hard at it at your school club. In those days, we weren’t alone in our failures and disappointment, and we could see others succeed and feel like it was our success too. To have that feeling again was incredible.

The premiere screening gave Mr. Sato a chance to reunite with the other participants he’d bonded with during filming. It was like meeting up with old friends, classmates from that one special day, full of memories of the competition they battled in together. It brought so much joy to the gathering.

And then there was the way participating deepened Mr. Sato’s connection to his fellow SoraNews24 reporters. Though they’re all on good terms, the hustle and bustle of article-writing doesn’t always leave much time for chitchat during a day at the office. Not that they had all that much mental space for conversation while in the midst of dealing with the crazy castle defenses, but the team really felt their relationships deepen through sharing the challenge and insanity.

So good, in fact, that if there’s a Season 2, Mr. Sato would love to do it again, and not just with the five who participated last time. He’d love for the whole office to come next time!

If watching the show gets you interested in the experience, you should definitely put in your application if the chance arises, Mr. Sato says, because actually being in it is way more fun than just watching it! Falling into a pond and getting soaked to the bone, leaping into a quagmire and covering yourself in mud, painting your face after getting caught by a demon, it’s all fun…

…even when you fail.

Images © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]