Yosakoi is an energetic Japanese traditional dance combined with modern music, which is held annually in early June. It is performed in large groups of dancers wearing fascinating colorful costumes (Happi coats and Yukatas predominantly). Naruko, or small wooden clappers are held by each dancer.
The first performance was held in the city of Koichi in 1954, which was influenced by Awa Odori (A traditional summer dance). Another story says that Yosakoi was performed in Koichi, a male student of Hokkaido University was impressed with it and decided to start the similar festival in Hokkaido. The first Yosakoi was held in 1992 with 10 teams of about 1000 participants, and about 20 thousands viewers with “soran bushi” (A type of Hokkaido folk song) which later got known as Yosakoi Soran Festival.
In Sapporo, Yosakoi Soran Festival is a competition with the main venue of the festival being Odori Park. The participants come from all around Hokkaido in more than 270 groups of totally around 27,000 participants. They are dancing along the street alternately. Spirit emitting from the dance and facial expressions is remarkable. The cheering of over one million viewers also make the atmosphere extremely exciting.
Initially, Naruko was a tool used to drive out wild birds that come to the fields. Because of its unique sound, some composer of contemporary music of the post-war in Japan decided to use it, after that, it influenced and got incorporated into Yosakoi dances in Kochi. Naruko become nationwide Yosakoi related instrument. Today, not only Naruko, but other hand-held instruments and props, such as drums, flags and batons are used by dancers as well.
You can enjoy yosakoi along the side street. There are paid seats available if you want to reserve one. Plenty of food stalls are installed all over the street during the festival, don’t miss it!
Admission fee: free *there are pay seats available
Parking lot: Not available (better to use train)