Send KIZUNA International Team to Kochi 2020

Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On May 13, 2020

Dear donors and followers, long time no see! We hope you are doing well in this COVID-19 situation wherever you might be.

As you might have heard, the 67th Kochi Yosakoi Festival that is supposed to take place this year has been cancelled. Here is an article on a Kochi news website.

This is the first time the festival is cancelled in its entire lifetime. It must have been a tough decision to make and we are grateful that the festival organizers prioritized the health and safety of the yosakoi teams, the staff, the spectators, and the residents of Kochi. However, our love for yosakoi has not changed. We have begun and still are practicing our new dance that was made in accordance to our theme this year: "GO!"

You can read the full statement made by Emiko Tanaka, the leader of our team, here.

What's next?

Aside from the Kochi Yosakoi Festival, we were also planning to participate in "Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi Festival" in Tokyo in October 2020. At the moment of writing, it is unknown if that festival will get canceled.

Additionally, we have to bring up a topic that you might be wondering -- what will happen to your donations and the rewards you are expecting? For example, one of the rewards is a DVD of our Kochi performance but there is no performance without the festival!

With regards to your donation, we are saving the money for next year's project. We expecting that obtaining money for 2021's project will be tougher after the economic impact that COVID-19 has brought to the world. Additionally, our team have incurred some expenses that cannot be returned. We hope you understand.

As for the donation rewards, here are the adjustments:

Original gift as written on the crowdfunding page Replacement gift in the case Harajuku happens Replacement gift in the case Harajuku doesn't happen

Video thank-you message: We'll send you a thank-you message in a video! This includes the digital card from the previous tier.

  • Video thank-you message
  • Digital card
(no change) (no change)

2020 Mini DVD: We'll send you a DVD recording containing one of our 2020 performances in Kochi, by mail, email, or both depending on what you provide us! [This requires you to tell us your postal address at checkout.] This includes the video message, physical and digital card from the previous tiers.

  • 2020 Mini DVD
  • Video thank-you message
  • Physical card
  • Digital card
  • Full DVD of our 2020 Harajuku performance
  • Video thank-you message
  • Physical card
  • Digital card
  • Full DVD of our 2019 Kochi performance
  • Goody bag containing sweets and/or things from California
  • Video thank-you message
  • Physical card
  • Digital card

2020 Full DVD: We'll send you a DVD recording of all our 2020 performances in Kochi, by mail, email, or both depending on what you provide us! [This requires you to tell us your postal address at checkout.] This includes the 2019 Full DVD, video message, physical and digital card from the previous tiers.

  • 2020 Full DVD
  • 2019 Full DVD
  • Video thank-you message
  • Physical card
  • Digital card
  • Full DVD of our 2020 Harajuku performance
  • 2019 Full DVD
  • Video thank-you message
  • Physical card
  • Digital card
  • Even better goody bag containing sweets and/or things from California
  • 2019 Full DVD
  • Video thank-you message
  • Physical card
  • Digital card

Once we figure out what happens to Harajuku's festival, we will prepare the replacement gifts and send them out to you all!

On behalf of the English crowdfunding team,

-Daniel Rolandi

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 20, 2020

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One of the requirements to participate in the Yosakoi Festival is that our song must use an excerpt from the ‘Yosakoi Naruko Odori’ (よさこい鳴子踊り) song (source). There are several great resources out there about that song so we'll provide a summary here and some links you can click through for more details!

Yosakoi Naruko Odori is a song from the "shin-min-you" (新民謡 - modern folk song) genre [1]. It was written by Takemasa Eisaku based on the ‘Yosakoi-bushi’ [2]. According to Wikipedia, Takemasa Eisaku has given the copyright on "Yosakoi Naruko Dancing" to the public, which I believe is what allows everyone to make remixes based on it. Yosakoi-bushi itself is a poem from Kochi.

Some excerpts:

Kouchi no jouka e kite miiya
jinma mo banba mo you odoru
naruko ryoute ni you odoru you odoru
Come to the town by Kochi castle
Grandpa and grandma are dancing well
Dancing well with naruko in both hands
Tosa no Kouchi no
Harimayabashi de
bousan kanzashi kau wo mita
yosakoi, yosakoi
In Kouchi of Tosa
At Harimaya Bridge
I saw a priest buying kanzashi [3]
Yosakoi, yosakoi


I found an interesting source in this Life in Kochi blog by S. Minami. The translation above comes from that blog combined with my knowledge of Japanese and advice from teammates (thanks, Will, Kasia, and friends!). It uses Kochi dialect and older variant of Japanese so take it with a grain of salt.

As the blog goes, back then (and probably now too?) Buddhist priests weren't supposed to be in a relationship with women so to find a Buddhist priest buying a hair ornament is a rare sight! The couple in that story is immortalized in a statue by the Harimaya Bridge, which is also featured in the poem above.

Please visit the Life in Kochi blog for more pictures and details.

Complete lyrics and audio files can be found in Kochi City Tourism Association's website here.


Now go back to the video of our performance in 2019. Can you find the lyrics and melody of Yosakoi Naruko Odori?

- Daniel Rolandi

[1] Source: page 288-289 "Traditional Folk Song in Modern Japan: Sources, Sentiment and Society"; https://books.google.pl/books?id=yfV5DwAAQBAJ

[2] Source: Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosakoi

[3] "kanzashi" is an ornamental hairpin.

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 14, 2020

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日本語でのご支援・ご協力はこちらのページをご覧下さい

Good news! Our Japanese crowdfunding campaign has reached their goal of 1 million yen! Thank you for your support!



Check it out at: https://yosafund.com/en/product/kizuna/

As a refresher, the reason we have both Japanese and English crowdfunding campaigns (aside from showing multiple languages) is to have a more targeted story for the different audiences. Outside of Japan, yosakoi is not as well known so that's why the English campaign has posts introducing our readers to yosakoi. We hope that with our effort, we spread not only information about our project but also about yosakoi so that one day the entire world knows what yosakoi is. Thus having this GoGetFunding campaign makes it easier for non-Japanese speakers to contribute.

We know there are a few people still want to donate so for the Japanese campaign we are adding a soft "next goal" of 1,300,000 yen. For the English campaign, our goal remains the same US$3000 -- it's never too late to make a donation!

The extra income will go towards supplies such as beverages and medicine. Since we have various dancers from all over the world including people from colder climate, we always have to pay extra careful about heat strokes and other weather-related issues.

The campaigns are closing on Jan 22th -- there's only about 8 days left to make a donation!

Note that donating through the Japanese campaign or the English campaign puts money into the same pool. By donating to this campaign, you're helping them too!


Once again, thank you for all your support! This is all thanks to you :D

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 08, 2020

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日本語でのご支援・ご協力はこちらのページをご覧下さい

Maria Traxler from Minnesota, USA, shares her story about her experience with yosakoi and with Kizuna International Team in 2019. This one is special because she actually found us through our crowdfunding campaign last year (and also invited her friend to come along)! What are the chances?


My first introduction to Yosakoi was at summer camp in Minnesota, USA. As a camper I learned Soran Yosakoi at Mori no Ike, part of the Concordia Language Villages (CLV). Many dances are taught at CLV, from many different languages, as a way to share culture and community between the 15 different language villages. Of course, Mori no Ike focuses on Japanese dances, but I also learned dances to songs in Portuguese, Hindi, Romanian, Spanish, and other languages. I loved learning the dances, so when the summer was over, I searched out as many of them as I could find on YouTube so I could keep practicing them on my own.

In 2015 I participated in the Yosakoi Festival in Kochi with the Shimanto-cho team Shimamuta, when I was a CIR there. I didn’t quite know the depth of what I was getting myself into--summer camp is a little different from the real deal--but I learned over our months of practice just how much a human being could sweat. And at every practice session I puzzled over choreography with or talked about the upcoming festival or commiserated about the humidity with someone new.


Even after returning to Minnesota I kept practicing the different dances I’d been taught. We don’t have a formal Yosakoi team here in the Twin Cities where I live, so I’d practice in my living room by myself. It helped me feel connected to the various communities I’d been a part of, even if I’d only been part of them for a few weeks (at camp) or they were thousands of miles away (in Shimanto-cho).

In early 2019 I suddenly hit a period of intense nostalgia for Kochi and Shimanto-cho, and on a lark I googled to see if there were any international Yosakoi teams that I could jump in with. It was half a joke, but the Kizuna International Team’s fundraiser popped up, and it turned out they were recruiting. My friend Jenn was also interested, even though she’d never danced Yosakoi before, and fortunately she convinced me to go for it with her. As before, it was a lot of hard work, but I met so many amazing new people, and I had a great time.


The team name, Kizuna, means “bonds”, and I really think dance is a way to build those bonds between people who might not otherwise interact. It’s definitely a lot of hard work, and it might be scary at first, but the end product is a sense of community we can be proud of and share with others. It reminds me of International Day, a festival we had at CLV, when the different villages would come together in one place and share aspects of our various cultures--including dance. Even if you’re not speaking the same language out loud, once you step and move and smile together with someone in the same way, you’re no longer strangers.

- Maria Traxler

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 28, 2019

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日本語でのご支援・ご協力はこちらのページをご覧下さい

Happy holidays to all of you!

Some of you might have heard about the Yosakoi Festival in Kochi but are not familiar with it, so we'll give you an overview!


The Yosakoi Festival is held 9th-12th of August annually in the city of Kochi on the southern edge of Shikoku island. In 2019 festival was the 66th festival. Next year in 2020 it will be the 67th festival!

Every year, the opening ceremony is on the 9th; main parades on the 10th and 11th; and the national tournament ("zenkoku taikai") and closing ceremony on the 12th. See schedule on the official website.


Hundreds of yosakoi teams, each led by a jikatasha, parade through several stages set up around the city. Some of the most prestigious ones are in Ootesuji, Obiyamachi, and Central Park -- not any team can just sign up and dance there!

In their performance, yosakoi teams have to follow the following rules:

  • Dancers must hold naruko and move forward
  • Teams may arrange the song however they like but they must include the melody of Yosakoi naruko odori
  • Max 150 dancers per team
  • Each team must have a jikatasha

Source: yosakoimatsuri.com

But aside from that, teams have complete freedom in terms of costumes, music, or even use more props (such as lanterns, fans, or parasols). This light structure allows for teams to innovate in many ways. I've seen teams with special costumes that unfold to reveal a different color underneath; now that's a revolution!

Some teams also have support staff that help with carrying necessities such as water, medicines, etc. and manage the logistics and keeping the teams on schedule!

The last but most important element of the performance is the audience -- that can be you! Audience typically border the parade path, cheering on the dancers and lending their power. This exchange between the dancers and the audience gives us dancers the energy to do more! Power on!

To note: some stages have a panel of judges that reward extraordinary dances with medals -- but that's a topic for another day!

Other interesting references

- Daniel Rolandi

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 19, 2019

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日本語でのご支援・ご協力はこちらのページをご覧下さい

Here is another story by one of our members from the 2019 team. It is thanks to donors such as you that we were able to provide this amazing experience to our dancers! We hope to be able to do it again in 2020 so we greatly appreciate your support!


Hi everyone, I am Barbara Johnson.

Born in 1951 in Tokyo, I was in Japan when Yosakoi started in Kochi in 1954. Who knew that in 2018 I would dance in Kochi!

In 1957, I moved to the US, where we faced bigotry, racism, and bullying. After WWII, Japanese faced much hatred; to be accepted, we tried to assimilate.

By the time my mother came to visit us after a period of 11 years, I was fully Americanized. I’m headed away to college so I didn’t have a good opportunity to relearn what I had lost. I have lived away from home since then, but very gradually over the years she has taught me Japanese ways.

To become less Japanese. I lost my native language and culture. I wish I could turn back the clock, but in real life, there is no time-slip.

Now being of Japanese is very important, but in a small rural town in Kansas, there is little access to Japanese culture. So when Yosakoi started at Kansas State in 2005, I wanted to join.


Both participants from Kansas, Ryan and Barbara made beautiful friendship bracelets for all the dancers.

I had no idea what Yosakoi was, but I wanted to participate in Japanese culture. I have been crazy about Yosakoi since!


In 2018, I was invited by Kochi City to become a Yosakoi Ambassador. I met Emiko Tanaka.

From this, came a chance to join Kizuna. Best decision!

Dancing with Kizuna has been the most incredible and wonderful experience! I am going to join again in 2020!

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of Kizuna!

- Barbara Johnson

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 11, 2019

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日本語でのご支援・ご協力はこちらのページをご覧下さい

It’s time to introduce you to an essential ingredient of yosakoi performances in the Kochi Yosakoi festival – the jikatasha music truck! The jikatasha (地方車) is so many things in one, and so much more than the sum of its parts.

Before the dancers even grace the stage, the jikatasha has taken pride of place at the front of the parade. The MC clears his throat, takes the microphone, and raises his eyes to a sea of dancers and audience members, their faces expectant. On the back of the jikatasha, the whole world can see him, and he can see the whole world.

The guitar thrums, the bass throbs, the MC sings out to the crowd. The jikatasha lurches forward and the performance begins!


(I’m really sorry for that corny poetic description, but I couldn’t really convey it in any other way!)

The jikatasha is a rolling musical stage on the back of a truck, and the pumping heart of the yosakoi team’s performance. It carries gigantic portable generators that supply electricity to a huge array of lights and powerful speakers.


Every jikatasha is lovingly decorated in each team’s design for that performance, often using the same elements and colours as the dancers’ costumes. It introduces the team's concept before the team even starts dancing, and also has space to convey the team’s name and major supporters.

And finally, perched at the top of the jikatasha, on a ready-made platform, is the yosakoi team’s band and cheer squad! They work their magic to inspire the team and audience alike to enjoy each performance with their full energy. The music has to be loud, to be heard over other teams' jikatasha and ensure that every member in the team can hear clearly, right down to the back row of the parade. For the people dancing in the front row it's like a rock concert right in your face!


To view a yosakoi parade from the back of a jikatasha is an experience like no other.

Actually, the reason we’re introducing the jikatasha is because it is the major goal of this crowdfunding campaign. It’s the largest single expense for any yosakoi team, easily exceeding ten thousand US dollars.

We really appreciate your support and donations, they’ll go directly towards constructing this fabulous vehicle. When our jikatasha is built, you’ll be the first to know, we can’t wait to show you more about the jikatasha in future posts!


- Will

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 08, 2019

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(Photo Credits: Kizuna Staff)

Hello! My name is Laura and I live in Winnipeg, Canada.

I started Yosakoi roughly 3 years ago and had the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Kochi Yosakoi festival with the Sakuramai Poland International Team. Dancing in the Kochi Yosakoi festival that year was the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and emotionally. Yet the thrill of dancing in front of so many smiling people and feeding off of the energy of the International team called me back, and I found myself signing up to be a part of the Kizuna International Team in 2019. I’m so happy I did.

Some of my awesome Kizuna teammates (Photo Credits: Kizuna Staff)

Being a part of the 2019 Kizuna International Team introduced me to so many wonderful people from all around the world. Before the Kochi festival, we trained together at a local sports camp in Ino Town. Dancing, laughing, sleeping, and eating with everyone for those 3 days in training camp added such an amazing level of friendship to the team. It was also extremely fun meeting the people of Ino Town and doing a language exchange with the local elementary students.


Decorating paper fans with elementary students from Ino Town (Photo Credits: Kizuna Staff)

When the festival started, I was once again testing my limits physically and emotionally. Dancing for 3 straight days in the high Japanese heat is no small feat. Yet everyone on the team was full of smiles and pushing to do our best throughout all of our performances. In the end we danced our routine over 42 times at many different venues around Kochi City.


Still smiling on the last day of the festival @ Kochi Castle Stage (Photo Credits: Kizuna Staff)

And even though I ended up with many blisters on my feet, I was so happy to be there again, in the beautiful city of Kochi, celebrating this amazing Yosakoi dance style, surrounded by such wonderful people.

I honestly can’t wait to do it all again in 2020!

- Laura

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 04, 2019

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Naruko are an essential prop in yosakoi dance. Dancers hold one of these wooden clappers in each hand and during the dance they are used to make 'clack' sounds in time with the music.


You can find these special 高知家 (kou-chi-ke, meaning "Kochi Family") naruko in Kochi! (Source: Daniel Rolandi)

The traditional design has a red body with black-yellow-black stripes on the three loose clapping tines on both sides of the naruko (called bachi). More stylized naruko can have various colors, bachi on only one face (called kata naruko), or even more intricate designs including logos burned onto its side.


Gotta collect 'em all, naruko! Gotta clack 'em all, naruko! This is our dear leader Emiko Tanaka's naruko collection. (Source: Emiko Tanaka)

It is said that historically naruko were used to scare away crows and other pests from rice fields. If used correctly, they can make quite a loud noise -- it scares away my roommate's cat!

There are various ways to hold a naruko. However you hold them, you'll need to hold tight so you don't drop them in the middle of the dance! When that happens, dancers usually pretend nothing happened, keep smiling and carry on with the dance!


I have seen both ways of holding the naruko. I think the first one is more common. (Source: Daniel Rolandi)

In Kochi, there are many shops that sell naruko in various design! Where I live (California, USA), we used to be able to find naruko in DAISO, a Japanese chain store. You should check out your nearest Japanese store -- you might find some!

- Daniel Rolandi


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Update posted by Kochi 2019 On Nov 28, 2019

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Hi everyone! I'm sure some of you are curious how the 2019 project went so let me share some highlights. Hopefully this inspires you to support or even join the project! We're still recruiting dancers and staff members :D


Our team picture taken at Kochi Castle's entrance

I have been doing yosakoi since 2015. I love performing yosakoi and feeling the excitement from the music and from the audience, so I was glad to get an opportunity to perform in the Kochi Yosakoi Festival.


Yes, I sweat a lot all over my body (Photo Credits: Kizuna Staff)

It addition to the festival on August 10th-12th, we had a training camp on August 6th-9th. We practiced in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening for several hours each! I have never had so much yosakoi training in such a short period of time. It was a great time to bond with other members, especially during meal time.

We had a cultural exchange event with elementary kids from Ino Town where we stayed. They were still young, but so brave to converse with us foreigners in English!! We made traditional Japanese paper together, called washi.


Hand making traditional Japanese paper together (Photo Credits: Daniel Rolandi)

My highlight from the festival is the performance at Central Park. It was a stage performance and I was placed first row! I was freaking out the entire morning because I was afraid of making mistakes. In the end, it turned out okay and I was grateful for this opportunity to grow as a dancer.

I'm excited for next year's festival. I hope to see you there!



- Daniel Rolandi

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2020 Mini DVD: We'll send you a DVD recording containing one of our 2020 performances in Kochi, by mail, email, or both depending on what you provide us! [This requires you to tell us your postal address at checkout.] This includes the video message, physical and digital card from the previous tiers.

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2019 Full DVD: We'll send you a DVD recording of all our 2019 performances in Kochi, by mail, email, or both depending on what you provide us! [This requires you to tell us your postal address at checkout.] This includes the 2020 Mini DVD, video message, physical and digital card from the previous tiers.

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2020 Full DVD: We'll send you a DVD recording of all our 2020 performances in Kochi, by mail, email, or both depending on what you provide us! [This requires you to tell us your postal address at checkout.] This includes the 2019 Full DVD, video message, physical and digital card from the previous tiers.

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You get to ride on our jikatasha during the festival! You need to be present at the festival on Aug 10 and 11 and we have the right to decide the schedule. This includes the 2019 Full DVD, video message, physical and digital card from the previous tiers.

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Your company name on the fan (uchiwa) that we will use in Kochi. IMPORTANT: Please contact us to ensure the availability of this option before committing.

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Mailing address for DVD: Karren Smith 4716 Skywriter Circle Colorado Springs, CO 80922 U.S.A.

Anonymous

Backed with $100.00 On Jan 21, 2020

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Anonymous

Backed with $250.00 On Dec 26, 2019

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Good luck guys!!! I know you can make it! <3

Matt Johnson

Backed with $20.00 On Nov 25, 2019

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Please donate any amount! This is a wonderful opportunity for international friendships!

BARBARA JOHNSON

Backed with $200.00 On Nov 20, 2019

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