Continuing with our theme of exploring culture and festivals on this trip we headed to the entertainment island of Odaiba. We pretty much always make a trip over there to see something. Once upon a time there were a few small islands in Tokyo Bay that were used as fortifications – ‘daiba’ means fort in Japanese – but a big landfill project combined them into one big island. It is a fun ride on the monorail over to the island, and there are lots of shopping centres, museums, beaches and other things to entertain.
This time we were going to see an event called ‘Dream Yosacoy Matsuri’. I was kind of curious about the name – first word in English, second word an Anglicized Japanese word and the third the word for festival written in romaji. What was this to be?
It turns out that the dance form called yokasoi was created after the Second World War in the city of Kochi. While many dance forms follow ancient traditions and steps, yokasoi is a fusion of old and new. And it was amazing.
This was one of those time when being unable to read Japanese was a leeetle bit of a problem. We bought tickets for the standing only area and they said the performance began at 14:45. Turns out that the opening ceremony began then. 25 minutes of speeches from the assembled dignitaries. Then a twenty minute break to reset the area for performances. It wasn’t a stage, but a wide roadway that passed under the monorail track. To tell the truth we weren’t quite sure what was going to happen.
And then it began!
What we were to see was just a part of the total event, which had 80 teams participating – about 6,000 participants. The teams ranged between 20 and 60 people each.
This group had a vaguely 1940s vibe, with their fedoras and music choices.
These folks had a vaguely Steampunk look to them.
Most groups had a big guy at the back with a huuuuge banner. And they all made it under the monorail track!
Not sure who the two young ladies were with the umbrellas….
I wondered if this group was made up of professional performers – they were all about the same age and were very good dancers.
Most of the groups were made up about equally of men and women, and across a range of ages. Young kids, like this one flying along.
The costumes were amazing!
So much detail. And sometimes they would flip their jackets inside out and whoosh – a whole different look.
So what does it look like?
And here’s one with the kids
It was quite wonderful. There were some groups that could have been professionals, but mostly they were just folks, doing something they love. High school and university students. Moms, Dads and kids. Everyday people. And behind the costumes and the dazzle there was a real sense of joy as they danced for us.
It was so good.