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Tue, Sep. 19, 2017 Kochi's Summertime Fever: The Yosakoi!
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Kyle Card catches Kochi's summertime festival fever by observing, and even joining in, the dynamic Yosakoi where hundreds of colorfully attired people dance throughout the city. He meets people who have long been involved in this freestyle festival, which got its start in the lean postwar years as a way to revitalize the community. And as the city gears up for the major event, which attracts people from all around Japan, Kyle comes across teams passionately rehearsing in the streets. Then, finally, the streets explode in color, music, and dance. Don't miss the singular Yosakoi Festival.

Obiyamachi shopping street
Obiyamachi shopping street
This central shopping street in Kochi is always bustling. It is a major site of the Yosakoi dance processions.
Address: Obiyamachi, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Nichiyo-ichi (Sunday Market)
Nichiyo-ichi (Sunday Market)
At Otesuji, which is the main venue of the Yosakoi Festival, one of the largest street markets in Japan is held every Sunday.
Address: Otesuji, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Kochi Yosakoi Joho Koryukan (Yosakoi information center)
Kochi Yosakoi Joho Koryukan (Yosakoi information center)
Drop into this center to learn all about the Yosakoi Festival, see demonstrations and try dancing using naruko clappers.
Address: 1-10-1 Harimayacho, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Telephone: +81-88-880-4351
Kochi Castle
Kochi Castle
This castle was built in the 17th century, and is registered on the list of historic sites in Japan.
Address: 1-2-1 Marunouchi, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Access
accessmap
Fly from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Kochi Airport. From there, take a bus to Harimaya-bashi Bus Terminal in the city center (about 30 minutes.)
Travel Log

Traveler: Kyle Card > More Info

Nationality:Canada

Occupation:actor / talent

Length of residence in Japan:9 years

Reason:Improving my Japanese and work as an actor

Traveler's Archives:

> Manazuru: Good Living by Design

> Uchikawa: A retro river townscape

> Takachiho: Dancing for the deities

> Bullfighting in Uwajima: Passion and Tradition

My journey this time around was to the city of Kochi in Shikoku, where I got to attend and even participate in the annual Yosakoi festival. Yosakoi has been called Japan's version of Brazil's Carnival, in that hundreds of people take to the streets in colorful attire to artfully and festively dance the day and night away!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the large dance troupes, in their eccentric costumes, promenade through the streets of Kochi to the sound of ear pounding music blasting from the speakers of equally eccentrically decorated trucks. I've been to a variety of Japanese festivals, and I must say this was one of the most enjoyable.

Yosakoi is in itself different from other Japanese festivals in that its roots do not stem from religious foundations and is thus not restrained by rigid dogmatic guidelines. Some basic rules are in place to keep the festival and its participants true to said roots, but for the most part Yosakoi embraces creativity and evolution. It was a breath of fresh air for me to watch and participate in such a festival, as my image of Japanese festivals was that they were all steeped in religion in one form or another. Not in the case of Yosakoi however, as it was created after wartime to help heal and improve the community, and continues to do so to this day! A certain level of fun can be had, and freedom experienced with no dogmas and no religious taboos to break!

Perhaps this is a defining factor in why and how Yosakoi's popularity continues to expand country and worldwide every year. People from all over come together to express their individual and collective creativity, sharing it with other festival participants and the people of Kochi.

Having experienced it firsthand, I feel that Yosakoi truly possesses a certain magnetism and strong sense of community. This can indeed serve as a lesson for other communities to follow to perhaps help reclaim a much-needed sense of community and connection, which is slowly disappearing from all around us.

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