Super Yosakoi 2009

The last of the three big festivals the same weekend (see my previous recent blog posts on Asakusa Samba Carnival and the Koenji Awa Odori), the Super Yosakoi is a folk dancing festival that was held on August 29-30, 2009 in the trendy Harajuku area of Tokyo – in the precincts of Meiji-Jingu, the Event Square in Yoyogi Park, and on Keyaki-Namiki-dori Avenue.

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There were over 2,300 participants and many more spectators who watched the event.

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One of the highlights of this festival was the parade along trendy and wide Omotesandō Avenue, Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées.  A marching band from the Tokyo Fire Department …

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… and the Tokyo 2016 Olympic bid started it off.

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Each dance team was led by a truck, playing the music, carrying the singers and all the sound equipment.

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Originally from the city of Kōchi in Shikoku Island in 1954 as a modern rendition of Awa Odori, Yosakoi is a unique style of dance that originated in Japan.

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The style of dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music.  The choreographed dances are often performed by large teams.

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Yosakoi participants include men and women of almost all ages – sometimes within a single team.

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One of the defining aspects of yosakoi dance is the use of naruko: small wooden clappers that are held in the hands of each dancer.  Naruko were originally used in Kōchi Prefecture to scare birds away from rice fields.

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The traditional naruko has black and yellow beaters on a wooden body, but most modern yosakoi groups create their own naruko, choosing colors and materials that match their costumes. 

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The use of naruko is required in yosakoi dance, but many groups also use other hand-held instruments or props, such as drums, other percussion instruments, flags, batons, and floats.  I love this first picture below, where I was able to catch the 3 female drummers’ jump in mid-air!

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I posted a large number of videos on my YouTube channel, below are just a few to give you a sense of energy and passion in this type of Japanese folk dance.

Along with Awa Odori, Yosakoi is one of my favorite Japanese folk dances.  Sitting on the street with an unobstructed view of the parade, I was able to take a lot of pictures and videos, and the rain held off that afternoon (but not in the evening).

12 thoughts on “Super Yosakoi 2009

    • Thanks – I really had a great spot. I have seen several parades on Omotensando Avenue, and you always seem have a good view because the street is wide and long, it never seems to feel too crowded unlike other places (ie. Asakusa Samba Carnival was crazy crowded).

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