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Questions By Jose Chung).And a huge thankyou to Eric for the pictures.
Interview courtesy of "Jose Chung".
In fall 1988, Takeshi’s Castle had its 3rd international special. 128 contestants from over 37 different countries came to Midoriyama Studios in Tokyo Japan to compete in a variety of challenges in an attempt to win 1million yen. Eric Sommers was one of those contestants, this is his story.
1.) How did you learn/apply for Takeshi’s Castle?In the Fall of 1988, I was asked by Mrs. Motoko Inagawa (the owner of Inagawa Motoko Office – (http://www.inagawamotoko.com) a Tokyo based foreign talent agency) if my friends and I would like to participate in Takeshi Castle (Takeshi Jou).
2.) Were you living in Japan at the time?
I was an exchange student in Tokyo at that time, attending classes at Waseda University and also doing part time movie/tv work with Inagawa Motoko Office.
3.) Why/How did you apply for the show?
Well, I’m not sure how the regular Japanese participants applied…but the special "foreigner" (Gaijin Taikai) episodes I believe were coordinated by Inagawa Motoko Office. On the show which I appeared, I would say about half of the 100 or so participants were American military (from the nearby bases). The rest of us were foreign students, entertainers, etc. I personally recruited about four other friends to go that day.
4.) Had you ever seen the show before you appeared on it?
Yes, I had seen it – even a few years earlier when I went to Japan , before going to college. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get the opportunity to actually go!!! My host family, I was staying with, were also very excited. They even helped me organize those crazy ‘traditional’ construction worker clothes I was wearing.
Do you speak Japanese?
Yes, I was majoring in Japan Studies in college … so I could speak pretty good Japanese at that point.
6.) How did you communicate with the producers of the show?
On that day, we all just kind of helped each other. Those of us who understood what we were supposed to do helped translate for those that couldn’t speak Japanese. There were about three or four translators there that day as well. One of the translators there was Manjot Bedi, who later became a good friend of mine. You can see him on the show wearing a turban acting as a host with Junji Inagawa.
7.) Do you remember when the show was taped?
I believe it was in October or November of 1988. I remember it was pretty cold that day, especially when the sun went down.
8.) What was it like behind the scenes of the show?
Well, the set was located near TBS’s Midoriyama Studios. I can’t remember now if we all walked or took a bus from the main building. Anyways, it was very muddy where the set was. One thing that surprised me was that the show really isn’t what it appears to be on TV. I really was under the impression that we would all go through each event until the Grand Finale when only a few of us would be left. However, what really happen was (I guess due to time restraints) all the participants went through the opening obstacle course (smashing through the walls and finding balls hidden in powder), but after that we were all separated into smaller groups. I think they filmed two events at a time. The winners of those events got to do the ‘Bridge Walk Event’ and those that made it through that got to go to the Grand Finale. Filming took all day, from morning til night.
9.) You were shown playing 1 game in the aired episode, the Tarzan Swing game, did you play any other games and if so which ones and how well did you do on them?
I actually did get to play one other event, unlike many people. It was late in the evening and many people had already left to go home. They asked me to do the Bouncing Surfboard game. I did it and fell backwards of the board after my first jump.It was quite a spectacular fall and I’m surprised they didn’t use that clip of me instead.
10.) It looked like you took a pretty hard fall on the Tarzan Swing game, what went wrong, were you injured?
It was actually much harder than it appeared! You’re going so fast, it’s hard to stop yourself. I think only one guy, a Jamaican bicyclist, made it. I wasn’t hurt at all. That mud was very thick and deep. In fact, I don’t think anyone got hurt that day, on any of the games.
11.) After you were eliminated, were you allowed to stay and watch the rest of the contestants play the games?
Yes, we were allowed, but it was so cold many people left.Not me, I stayed to the very end!
12.) In the episode, your briefly seen talking to the battlefield reporter, what were the two of you talking about?
Junji Inagawa asked me if I was enjoying Waseda University .I responded saying "no I hate it"
Did you get to meet any of the Japanese hosts or characters?
Yes, I talked quite a bit with Junji Inagawa. He was very friendly and because I was living not far from his home, he even invited me to dinner at his house a few months later. That day I also got to meet Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano), Sonomama Higashi, Tani Hayato, and even Animal.
14.) Have you competed on any other Japanese Game shows?
During my senior year of college, I went back to Tokyo to work at Inagawa Motoko Office for another six months.During this time I got to appear on many Japanese TV shows (mostly in television dramas)… nothing quite like Takeshi Castle.I put a few of these clips on Youtube (check under DJRagga7)
15.) On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the experience?
Definitely a 10!!!! 20 years later I still think back what a great day that was!
So, you can imagine my surprise when friends started telling me that I was on Spike's MXC some 15 years later...The episode is called Team USA vs. The World.
Life is Funny Like That!
I’m Eric Sommers, I competed in episode 110 of Takeshi’s Castle, and you’re at Keshi Kingdom!!!!
I’d like to thank Eric for taking the time to share his experience on Takeshi’s Castle and for providing photos of his experience. This interview is a Takeshi Kingdom exclusive and is not to be posted anywhere else without permission from Takeshi Kingdom.