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.
Address: Obiyamachi, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Address: Otesuji, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Address: 1-10-1 Harimayacho, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Address: 1-2-1 Marunouchi, Kochi-shi, Kochi Prefecture
Traveler: Kyle Card > More Info
Occupation:actor / talent
Length of residence in Japan:9 years
Reason:Improving my Japanese and work as an actor
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.