The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Sampo suru shinryakusha
Ikiume Sampo suru shinryakusha
(Strolling Invader)
(Sep. 2007 at Aoyama Round Theatre)
Photo: Aki Tanaka
Premiere: 2005
Length: approx. 2 hr.
Acts, scenes: 23 scenes
Cast: 10 (7 men, 3 woman)
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Sampo suru shinryakusha (Strolling Invader) by Tomohiro Maekawa 
    The setting is a small harbor town on the Japan Sea coast. When a man named Shinji goes out to see the local festival and disappears. He is found wandering around three days later and explains that he has been on a stroll the whole time. Having not had anything to eat or drink in three days, he is very weak and his feet are bloodied from shoe blisters. What’s more, there has been a decided change in his character, to the point that his wife Narumi thinks he must be a different person. But having been troubled by her husband’s infidelity for some time, Narumi finds she can like the new Shinji better. Their doctor, Kurumada, diagnoses Shinji’s problem as probably some kind of disorder of the brain.

    There is a girl named Akira Tachibana who has been asleep for five days in Dr. Kurumada’s clinic. She is the only survivor of a family that was cruelly murdered by an old woman. This girl Akira has the same kind of symptoms as Shinji. It doesn’t appear to be a loss of memory, but she has lost the sense of family and friends and thus appears somehow different from normal human beings.

    Even after being rescued from his initial 3-day “stroll, “ Shinji’s compulsion to go on walks only escalates. He claims that he is simply strolling and talking with the people that he meets along the way, but it turns out that the people he has had friendly conversations with on his walks end up losing certain concepts like “blood relations,” “ownership” and “prohibited,” and as result they begin to act in problematic ways. Shinji’s strolls have brought on an epidemic of “concept loss” in this small town.

    In fact, both Shinji and Akira have become possessed by an alien that is researching human though patterns and emotions and are using their findings in preparation for an invasion to take over planet Earth. This alien is using the people close to the ones it possesses as “guides” to expand the group of research “subjects” in a safe, undetected manner. And interestingly, as Shinji steals concepts from the people he converses with, he becomes more and more human in nature.

    It appears that there is a military base of one of the country’s allies in this small town. There is increasing military tension with a country across the sea and from time to time misguided missiles fly over the harbor, all contributing to the spread of the concept of “war” throughout the town.

    Through this all, the alien has continued to collect people’s concepts in Shinji and is preparing to return to its home planet, an act that would presumably mean the end of Shinji’s bodily functioning, and thus death. Sensing this coming departure of her husband, whom she has come to love more than before as the alien’s manipulations have changed his character, Narumi—who has faithfully fulfilled her duties as a “guide” up until this point—makes one last request of Shinji. She begs that he steal her concept of “love” before he goes. When he does so and learns of the existence of the concept of love, Shinji is deeply moved and troubled.

    Finally, Narumi begs Shinji to tell her what concept should be stolen from people to prevent war. Is it “nation” or “possessions” or the “race” or “religion”?

Profile: Born: 1974
Born in 1974 in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Pref. Tomohiro Maekawa founded the theater company Ikiume in 2003 and has since written and directed all the company’s plays. The name Ikiume implies getting glimpses of the other world [the afterlife] while still alive, which is Maekawa’s theatrical concept. He has drawn attention in the theater world with works that combine elements of science fiction, horror and the occult in ways that bring a sense of wonder into everyday life situations. His works include Sampo suru shinryakusha (Strolling Invader), Kansu domino (Mathematical Domino), Nukeana no Kaigishitsu (Meeting Room with an Escape Hole) and Omote to ura to, sono mukou (Outside In, and Out There). In December 2007 he also published a short novel version of Sampo Suru Shinryakusha.