Many festivals occur during different seasons in Japan. During the pleasant month of October, the Tokyo Yosakoi Festival is held in order to show people the ever-unique style of “Yosakoi” dance. A lot of people participate in this event and several performers can be witnessed dancing and chanting local folk songs. This 2017, the festival will be held from October 7 to October 8 in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro District.
Yosakoi was first introduced in Japan in 1954 in Kochi Prefecture as a means of uplifting people’s spirit. Japan was highly devastated during the post-war period that it needed to rehabilitate itself. The Yosakoi dance united people in Japan in its most trying times. Since then, the dance became popular and several festivals were held yearly.
The Yosakoi Festival comes in different sizes and it is fun as it evokes an energetic atmosphere which keeps it lively. Participants include both men and women who like dancing, and the dances are well choreographed. It is also open to those who’d like to join the fun as long as you practice for an hour.
Some people make teams in order to compete for the top spot. The different groups showcase their skillful performances with upbeat music, colorful costumes, and precise movements. The most predominant costumes worn are “happi coats,” a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat, and “yukata,” a casual summer kimono. Dancers are seen holding small wooden clappers called “naruko” (percussion). People also dance to the song called “Yosakoi Naruko Dancing.”
The Tokyo Yosakoi Festival for this year will be held on October 7 and 8, 2017. The event is going to be organized by four shop associations in Ikebukuro West Exit. It will be participated by many teams from different places who are going to perform traditional dances in varying styles which add to the incredible excitement of the festival. Other event highlights include interesting booths selling souvenir items. The Tokyo Yosakoi Contest is held in order to choose the best-performing team in terms of choreography and dance style.
It is said that Yosakoi is also done internationally. It is performed in Penang, Malaysia every July in order to strengthen the ties between Japan and Malaysia. In Vietnam, the dance festival is also performed every April in order to introduce Japanese culture to the country. Yosakoi teams can also be found abroad such as in Canada.
The popularity of the Yosakoi Festival is growing. Besides Tokyo, the event is also held in Sapporo in Hokkaido, Sasebo in Nagasaki, Sakado in Saitama, etc. It can also be seen in different movies, animations, and manga.
This is just one of the Japanese festivals and events you can attend this coming October 2017. You may also join the fun to get culturally immersed but do take note that teams are only allowed 150 participants. Enjoy traditional Japanese dance at the Tokyo Yosakoi Festival!
Tokyo Yosakoi Festival Website *Japanese only