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Interview By J. Murphy

We’ve had a few interviews with contestants who were on an episode of Takeshi’s Castle. But we’ve never had an interview like this. Competitor Roger Costanguay competed in both episodes 83 and 110 of Takeshi’s Castle. Both of these were international specials. Roger was kind enough to share his experiences on Takeshi’s Castle with us.

1: Were you living in Japan at the time?

Yes, I was in the U.S. Navy, living on a joint Japanese/U.S. naval base.

2: How did you learn about/apply for Takeshi’s Castle?

I had a female friend named Katrina, who was also in the Navy and had been moonlighting as a model in Tokyo. Katrina's agent asked her to seek potential participants for Takeshi's Castle (Takeshi Joh). I, along with perhaps a dozen other military men and women from my base, enthusiastically volunteered to participate.

3: How did you audition for the show? Did they interview you? Did they give you any kind of physical tests?

Absolutely no audition was required. We did however have to fill out and sign a waiver form absolving the producers of the show from any lawsuits should anyone get injured during the shooting of the show.

4: Had you seen the show before you appeared on it?

No

5: Do you speak Japanese?

Yes

6: Do you remember what it was like behind the scenes?

Behind the scenes, there were numerous organizers of all sorts designated to move the various teams of participants through the obstacles. I can't recall just how many total obstacles there were,but because there were many gaigin (foreign) participants from all over the world, they divided all of us into small groups at each obstacle.I remember being in a group of participants that represented countries such as Germany, Australia, New Zealand,Switzerland, the U.S. and the U.K. The misconception that one gets as a viewer of these games is that everyone participates and advances through all of the obstacles in order to get to the final stage: water pistol fight at Takeshi's Castle. That was simply not the case.I didn't participate in ALL obstacles; in fact, I participated in only four of them. The show was designed to systematically weed out some of the participants by either choosing them to participate in that obstacle that you were at or simply overlooking you and moving you to the next successive obstacle.They simply had too many foreigners to have all of them participate in each and every obstacle.I actually emerged as a finalist on a fluke. There had been three or four U.K or Australian participants who had successfully advanced to the final stage but because they were college students attending various universities in Japan, they had to leave early to study for exams,which were to be taken the next morning. Thus, they chose not to stay late. The organizers went around and asked some of us if we wanted to participate in the final stage, and I answered of course, yes. That's how I got to the final stage.

7: How long did the shooting for your episodes take?

The shooting took well over 12 hours. I remember going to Tama Hills, the back lot of the TBS studios, early around 7 am and not leaving until 6pm or 7pm.

8: In the first episode you appeared in you were shown playing 4 games; I’m Not feeling Hungry (The game where you have to get the bun in your mouth), The first Fortress (The Water pistol game hill climb game), Earthquake Grandpa (The Cushions game) and The Final Showdown (The final Water pistol Go-Kart Game). Do you remember if you played any other games during that particular episode?

No, as I mentioned in question 6, we were all split up in small groups so that we were systematically "herded" from one obstacle to the other. I truly don't believe that anyone actually participated in all of the obstacles.You are correct in your observation that I competed in only four of the obstacles, including the final stage.

9: Of the games you played, what do you remember about them?

I remember being a little intimidated in thinking that "I'll never complete all of these obstacles and advance to the final stage". Some of the obstacles, particularly the swinging ropes and cannon shooting plastic balls at you while you tried to traverse from one end to the other, required extraordinary feats of physical and/or mental prowess. I could not have successfully completed that stage had I been subjected to it.The Stepping Stones in the water also appeared to be as equally challenging as the swinging ropes.The earthquake house, which I'm seen holding on to the cushions, seemed easy enough but when I got on the cushions the house vibrated with a great force, and I thought that I was doomed but the switch was turned off just as I was beginning to topple from the heap of cushions, and,miraculously, I advanced beyond that stage."Eating the Bun" was actually the first stage and was the easiest. About 90-95 percent of the participants advanced from there. The "First Fortress" also required considerable athletic skills and many just didn't make it over the wall and got zapped by the water pistol gang.

10: You made it to the final event; did you have a strategy for winning?

There was no strategy on my part for winning, except to perhaps try to "lay low" when I advanced to a stage that I clearly knew that I wasn't going to be able to successfully complete. Again, emerging as a finalist was purely a fluke for me, owing to the true finalist who had to leave early to take college exams in the next morning.

11: After you were in episode 83 you appeared in another international special, episode 110. How did you learn about this episode and why did you decide to try out for this episode?

I had so much fun in episode 83, when asked again by the same friend; I obviously wanted to go again.Beato Takeshi, founder of the game show Takeshi's Castle (Takeshi Joh), was actually a gracious and funny man.I got to see him up close during the final stage, the pistol fight Go-Kart game.We were all paid 10,000 yen to participate and were very well fed at lunchtime. It was actually the first time that I had ever been a contestant on any game show, American or Japanese. We all took the gamesin an amusing manner and didn't really treat them seriously. It was all fun but deep down; we really wanted to "take Takeshi's Castle". However, we knew that it had been next to impossible to do so.

12: You weren’t shown playing any games during this episode but do you remember which ones you played, and do you know why they weren’t shown in the final cut of the episode?

I don't know why I was not shown playing in the episode 110. As I mentioned earlier, they had a system to cull participants at each obstacle. Perhaps they chose the ones to move on that they perceived to represent a formidable threat to take the castle. I don't really know their reason or method as to how they chose those to move on and those to leave. After all, it was a TV game show and the producers obviously wanted to create excitement and contenders who would pose a legitimate threat to "taking the castle".Otherwise, why would TV viewers even bother watching?

13: Have you competed on any other game shows, Japanese or American?

I have never competed in any other game shows,American or Japanese.

14: Did you ever think 20 years later you would be participating in an interview about your experiences on Takeshi’s Castle?

No, I never gave it a thought that some day someone would be contacting me saying that they've seen episodes of me participating in Takeshi Joh.It was very difficult to explain to any of my friends and relatives about the game because I had loaned out the only evidence of it in the form of a VHS format tape and it disappeared. Thus, trying to describe to anyone not having watched these games was very difficult.

I’m Roger Castonguay, I was in episodes 83 and 110 of Takeshi’s Castle, in one of which I made it to the final event and took second place and you’re at the Keshi Kingdom.