Over the last few years the Ajimi team has managed to run into same saru (猿 - monkey) show at different temples around Tokyo. We recently came across this team at our own local temple, Miyohoji. The steadfast macaque in question went through the same sad routines - walking on stilts, climbing stairs, doing handstands and leaping across abysses. A perfect straight man in how his thin-lipped demeanor denoted a certain indifference to his being the ultimate brunt of the jokes. And the sheer humiliation of his "entertaining" activities brought a fleeting feeling of pathos to the crowd when not enjoying their questionable evolutionary superiority over their monkey-cousin.
Animal shows, at least in the 1st world, are on the decline. Shows like this are few and far between in big cities. The best one gets these days is the parade of dressed-up and fetishized lap dogs that are ostensibly being walked every day in Tokyo parks. That is if running after poochy with plastic bags and brandishing butt-wipes is what's become of "walking the dog." The obsessive anthropomorphizing of these poor canines, their bodies used as naked displays of their masters' insecurities makes the old fashioned monkey show look relatively benign. At least Saru-kun and his keeper are making a buck out of it. And he does look pretty smart in that happi coat!