Monday, 11 August 2008

Yosakoi Festival

The Yosakoi festival happens once a year. I am not sure if it is specific to Kochi or if the festival is across all of Shikoku, or even all of Japan. What I do know is that it is happening right now in Kochi city. Both yesterday and today, various dance teams from all over Kochi-ken gathered in Kochi-shi to strut their stuff. I only saw a bit of it on tv yesterday afternoon, but here is what I understand about this part of the festival:

Teams practise a dance routine and prepare a float of sorts (a decorated truck that depicts their team and proudly displays its name), then they dance along a street in Kochi City, dressed in matching colourful, decorative costumes; some rather elaborate, with flowing sleeves and various accoutrements. The floats lead the way with musicians or music playing from them to lead the dancers in their routine. The coordinated and much-practised dances varied as much as the people who were part of the teams: from children through to elderly citizens, and even wheel-chair bound participants, performing well-timed moves and motion. The dancers held clackers -- apparently an important item in Yosakoi. The leaders often consisted of the front couple of rows, sometimes a few steps ahead of the rest of the pack. They often had other items or instruments and sometimes wore different costumes to the rest of the team.

All in all, it looked quite impressive. Everyone in each team put in a lot of effort to dress and make themselves up, as well as having put in a lot of time to practise their coordinated routines.

The festival will contine until Wednesday evening, when there will be hanabi (fireworks). I am not sure what the rest of Yosakoi consists of, as the two days of dancing appears to be such a major part, but I'm sure that the city will be a very lively, and festive, place.


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