In the West, we’re often used to a binary definition of a restaurant or entertainment venue. It’s either an establishment to sit down and enjoy a meal or one where patrons can take in some kind of performance. Seldom does a destination deliver on both. Sometimes, however, it can.
This is where Osaka’s Flamingo the Arusha and its new Ninja Action Show fills the gap.
Having successfully operated in the city’s busy Namba district for more than 10 years, Flamingo the Arusha combines the best features of both a bar-cum-restaurant and a concert venue.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited along to the restaurant to preview this new show. Upon entering, it looked like an ordinary restaurant. However, as I made my way into the dining area, I saw the massive stage, lighting and sound setup at the rear of the venue — it was indeed a foreshadowing of things to come.
As we took our seats, the lights dimmed. Japanese flute and pan pipe music played. And taiko drums — so familiar to fans of samurai movies — beat out a familiar tempo.
When the lights came up, there on the stage was a lone warrior with his sword in hand, surrounded by three would-be assassins — all clad in the night black garb of the ninja.
In a quick combination of martial arts, dance and rhythmic moves, our hero took down the three attackers in double time. He tapped the butt off his katana — in Kill Bill style — as his three assailants fell in unison.
The show wasn’t all life-or-death struggles. In time-honored, Japanese tradition, the blade battles soon gave way to the grace and elegance of the geisha. In time, three young ladies — adorned in strikingly vibrant, beautiful robes, headdresses and customary make-up — gently made their way to the stage for a different aspect of the show. Their grace was exemplary as they skillfully ascended the steps to the stage while wearing 20-centimeter high wooden geta (sandals).
In all, we were treated to a 20-minute sampling of what promises to be a 90-minute, feature-length show filled with non-stop action, music, dance and culture. The show should be of particular interest to the millions of foreigners who visit the Kansai region every year dreaming of seeing geisha and samurai blades — as well as those like me who call Osaka home.
The spectacle premieres on Apr. 4, with subsequent twice-nightly performances each Tuesday from Apr. 18 until June 27. The two performances per day offer different viewing and dining options depending on your budget.
The early show opens its doors at 6:30 p.m. with the live show kicking off at 7 p.m. A ticket to see the performance along that includes a dinner plate and a drink is ¥8,000. Tickets for the later show — which opens at 8:45 p.m. for a 9:15 p.m. start — are ¥5,000 and include one free drink of your choice.
The food at Flamingo the Arusha is in keeping with the ninja theme. Served in a traditional lacquered box, the dinner plate is a selection of fine cuisine from across Japan. Even the coaster on which to sit your drink is formed into the familiar shape of a shuriken (throwing star) — the discerning ninja’s weapon of choice!
Whether you’re looking for good food, live music or traditional Japanese arts, Flamingo the Arusha’s Ninja Action Show promises to offer foreign visitors to Osaka all of the above with an evening they will never forget!
Flamingo the Arusha’s Ninja Action Show
Time: Every Tuesday, Apr. 4-June 27 (except Apr. 11)
7 p.m. (¥8,000) & 9:15 p.m. (¥5,000)
1-7-27 Sakuragawa, Naniwa-ku, Osaka
5-min walk from Namba station on the JR and Yotsuhashi lines