KU Festival

What is Yosakoi?

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Yosakoi is a unique style of dance that originated in Japan. Yosakoi started in the city of Kochi in 1954, as a modern rendition of Awa Odori, a traditional summer dance. As of 2005, yosakoi-style dancing has spread throughout much of Japan. The style of dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music. The choreographed dances are often performed by large teams. Along with a number of professional yosakoi schools and town dance teams, yosakoi is also a popular event during the sports festivals held by Japanese elementary, junior, and senior high schools. Yosakoi participants include men and women of almost all ages – sometimes within a single team. In the dialect of Tosa province (modern-day Kochi Prefecture), "yosakoi" means "Please come at night."

Costumes and naruko

The costumes used by yosakoi teams vary widely. Happi coats and yukata are the most predominant costumes and can be seen in a wide variety of colors. However, some groups choose costumes that are based on historical attire, popular fashions, or ethnic fashions. Typically, all members of a team wear similar costumes.

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 Kochi Prefecture to scare birds away from rice fields. 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. 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.

Yosakoi Naruko Dancing

The official yosakoi dance is based on a song called "Yosakoi Naruko Dancing", written by Takemasa Eisaku. This song was created by combining elements of three songs: "Yosakoi-bushi" ("yosakoi melody"), "Yocchore" (a children's song), and "Jinma-mo" (a folk song of Kochi Prefecture). The original competition in Kochi requires that each team's music include some part of this original music. Competitions and festivals in other areas may not have this requirement (thus allowing teams to compose their own music), or may require that elements of different local folk songs are worked into the dance routines. Takemasa has given the copyright on "Yosakoi Naruko Dancing" to the public.

Yosakoi Matsuri

Yosakoi Matsuri ("yosakoi festival") is a festival in the city of Kochi, Japan. This is the original yosakoi festival: it has taken place every August since 1954. In this festival, teams of dancers and floats crowd to dance the yosakoi naruko dance together. The number of participants has been increasing yearly: as of 2005 over 10,000 dancers participate in this competition every year.
The rules of the Kochi yosakoi competition are as follows:
Participants must use the naruko clappers in the dance.
Any musical arrangement is acceptable, but the music must contain at least some part of Takemasa's original "Yosakoi Naruko Dancing" song.
Teams are limited to 150 participants.

Growing popularity of yosakoi

Since its introduction in 1954, yosakoi has become popular throughout the country of Japan. As of 2005, there were yosakoi festivals and competitions in over 200 locations.
In Tokyo, the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi [1] is a two-day yosakoi festival that takes place in five locations in Harajuku and Yoyogi Park. This festival has occurred annually since 2001.
Sapporo, Hokkaido has also started a yosakoi festival.
Sasebo, Nagasaki host the largest Yosakoi festival on Kyushu at the end of every October.

Stats ©2007 K-State Japanese Yosakoi Dance Club & Seiji Ikeda.