In 1954, Japan was suffering from its first major national recession since the end of World War II. Sensing the despair of people in Kōchi, the Kōchi Chamber of Commerce promoted a dance festival called Yosakoi as a way of “dispelling the gloom and encouraging the local people.” Whether it succeeded in “dispelling the gloom” or not is debatable. Yosakoi’s current popularity, however, is indisputable: cities across Japan, including Tokyo and Nagasaki, host Yosakoi festivals that attract thousands of visitors every year.
Yosakoi is a hybrid of modern and traditional dance. It is widely seen as a modern spin on the traditional summer dance Awa Adori . Every year, over 15,000 Yosakoi dancers perform in teams to modern or traditional dance music while wearing elaborate and colorful traditional costumes. Although Yosakoi pays homage to tradition, Yosakoi dancers are not restricted by it while designing their dance routines. That’s because Yosakoi has just three rules: “[e]ach team must have no more than 150 people; while moving forward you must dance with naruko in hand; and any musical arrangement is acceptable, but it must include the “Yosakoi Bushi”.
If you are lucky enough to be in Tokyo during August you can catch the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi Festival. It typically occurs during the middle or end of the month. The pictures below are from the performances held in Yoyogi Park in 2014. You can find links that provide more detailed information by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
The Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi Festival in Tokyo is held every year from mid to late-August in Harajuku and Shibuya. You can visit GoTokyo.com for more information on the location and dates of the next festival.
For further background information on Yosakoi, please visit the links below, both of which are affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: