JugTech: And now for something completely different

Practicing at a local primary school Practicing at a local primary school

JugTech members Takayuki Sugiura (right) and Maho Watanabe JugTech members Takayuki Sugiura (right) and Maho Watanabe
- Takayuki Sugiura demonstrating cigar box juggling
- Maho Watanabe demonstrating juggling with balls

Tokyo Tech's student club activities cover a variety of fields in sports, engineering, culture and the arts. Nevertheless, it will surely surprise some readers to learn that one circle is devoted entirely to the skill of juggling. JugTech was founded around ten years ago by one juggling enthusiast, who subsequently had no difficulty attracting others to his pastime. Today, the circle has some 80 registered members, of which half regularly attend practice sessions.

"I joined the club last year after seeing some of the members perform at the university's flower-viewing festival," says Takayuki Sugiura, a second-year student in the School of Engineering's Control and Systems Engineering Department. "I wanted to try something completely new and this was certainly different." He has since become the club's leader and particularly enjoys juggling cigar boxes.

Members generally practice twice a week: indoors at a local primary school and in the open on the grounds of the university, unless the weather is bad, in which case the latter session is cancelled. Members who want to practice more can arrange additional sessions on the university grounds, weather permitting. New members decide what objects they would like to learn to juggle and purchase them when they join. Popular items and juggling styles include cigar boxes, clubs, a variety of balls, plate spinning, rings, devil sticks and the diabolo.

As well as demonstrating their skills at Tokyo Tech festivals, the group sometimes receives requests to perform at local nursery and primary schools, where they take the opportunity to teach the youngsters a few of the basic skills of juggling. Also, when attending parties, individual members can be called on to demonstrate their skills if it becomes known they are jugglers.

JugTech member Maho Watanabe, from the same department as Sugiura, says you can learn to juggle balls after just one week of practice. "It takes a little longer with other objects, depending on what they are," he adds. Watanabe specializes in juggling clubs and says juggling never gets boring because once you learn the basics, the challenge then is to learn hand variations and even come up with your own original techniques.

Sugiura agrees. "Even after I graduate, I will continue to juggle. You can practice anywhere and it's fun."

Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin No. 16 (May, 2010)