Mariko Itakura aka Princess Tenko
Princess Tenko, Tenko Hikata, Mari Asakaze
Place of Birth
Arai, Niigata, Japan
Princess Tenko is highly skilled in the art of illusion. She specializes in grand illusion and death defying escape acts such as "The Spike Illusion in the Face of Death," which almost ended her career.
In 2007, in the japanese city of Sabae, Tenko performed The Spike illusion, but the trick went wrong causing serious injuries. She was suppose to escape from a box the moment it was speared by ten metal swords, but instead was pinned inside by the swords.
One of the swords almost took her eyes out had it not stopped one centimeter above her eyes. After being released from the box, she continued the show for another thirty minutes before stopping it early due to her injuries.
Princess Tenko owns a Kinkajou (kind of Raccoon), two white lions, eight horses, a Serval cat (African wild cat) and a dozen dogs.
Princess Tenko was born Mariko Itakura June 29, 1959 in Arai, Niigata, Japan.
As a teenager, Mariko's big break came after she enrolled with a relative's talent agency. She started off in the music industry as a pop singer.
Then in 1977 she was suddenly asked to stand in for another of the agency's members, the famous magician Tenko Hikita, after suffering from heart complications.
It was through performing one of Hikita's acts "The Great Escape from a Fiery Aerial Cable Car," that Mariko first shot to fame.
A year later, in 1978 she debuted as a singing magician under the name Mari Asakaze. When Tenko Hikita passed away in 1980, Mariko was asked to take over his name, and to perform illusions and dangerous escape acts full time.
However, with success came animosity. The new Hikita was attacked for being cheeky and to young to take over such a big game.
Tired of the ill treatment, she left Japan in 1986 when bill and Irene Larsen, who ran the Magic Castle in Hollywood, asked her to work for them in the United Sates.
She changed her name to Princess Tenko and spread her international wings even furthur when she performed at the Cabaret de Champs - Elysees in Paris. In 1988 she starred in both NBC's "Magic Kingdom" and ABC's "Incredible Sunday" television shows.
In 1990 Tenko was honored as "Magician of the Year" by the U.S. Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences. Previous recipients include David Copperfield, Doug Henning and Siegfried and Roy.
In 1994 Tenko debuted at the Radio City Music Hall in New York and drew audiences of 165,000.
Her continued success in New York catapulted her to worldwide fame. In 1995 Tenko partnered with Mattel and launched a series of eight Princess Tenko dolls.
Soon after, Saban Entertainment created "Princess Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic," a TV cartoon series. Her successful career led her to perform all over the world, including North Korea, Monaco and Brunei.
Tenko retired in 1996 and became a wildlife conservation activast. She took on the role as honorable goodwill ambassador for the African Wild Animal Conservation Fund.
In 2011, Tenko was invited to the funeral of the late North Korean dictator, Kim Jong II, who was a big fan of hers. She respectfully declined the offer.
Aside from being an illusionist she is also known as a singer, video photographer, stage director, movie director and painter.
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