Send the International Yosakoi Team to Kochi 2019

Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 13, 2019

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

Hello again, and welcome to "Kochi Is Right This Way" Part 2! Here we talk about more iconic things in Kochi and this time it'll delight your soul and your tastebuds!


Credits: Kasia (shamelessly edited by Daniel)

Katsuo

Katsuo is bonito or skipjack tuna. It's the same fish which is used to make bonito fish flakes, which you can find in a lot of Japanese cuisine. Although I haven't found a source on whether Kochi produces more katsuo products compared to the rest of Japan, you'll find at least two katsuo icons in Kochi: katsuo tataki and katsuo ningen.

Katsuo tataki is seared bonito. There's a great many way of eating katsuo but this is the most famous way. They take an entire bonito, fillet and cut them up, salt them, and then sear them on top of a flame (video). One of the places you can find these is in Hirome Market near Kochi Castle.


Find out more in VisitKochiJapan!

Katsuo ningen is a humanoid yuru-kyara (character mascot) from Kochi with a severed katsuo head (yes, with the blood and bone showing). It might sound gory but it's actually pretty cute. You might occasionally encounter a yosakoi team with a katsuo ningen within their group.


Photo credits: Daniel Rolandi

Yuzu

Yuzu is a kind of citrus with a unique blend of sweetness and tartness. It's grown throughout Japan (source) but it's especially famous in eastern parts of Kochi prefecture. Yuzu has been used for many things: by itself as fruit juice (see Gokkun Umajimura), as vinegar to make sushi, in sauce for katsuo tataki, in yuzu pepper (yuzu kosho), in alcoholic drinks (yuzushu, when imported into the USA can be triple the price!), and many more!

When you visit a gift store in Kochi, you'll definitely see a wealth of yuzu-based products!

How to get there

I'm sure you are all excited to visit Kochi now! I'll share with you three common ways to get to Kochi:

  1. By bus. This is usually the cheapest method. From Osaka you can take a bus to get to Kochi and it takes perhaps half a day.
  2. By train. Whether from Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Osaka, or Tokyo, you can take the Shinkansen to Okayama station and transfer to a local JR train that goes to Kochi JR station. This trip will also take most of your day.
  3. By plane. Smaller airlines such as Jetstar can take you from other airports in Japan (such as Narita) to Kochi Ryoma Airport!

VisitKochiJapan is an amazing resource by the Kochi Prefectural Government. It contains more detailed information on transportation as well as dining and things to do.

I hope you learned as much as I did about the many features of Kochi! Until next time :)

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 09, 2019

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

We've learned a lot about yosakoi. Here's an opportunity to learn some iconic things about Kochi city and Kochi prefecture!


Credits: Kasia

Harimaya-bashi

The bridge of Harimaya appeared in the Yosakoi-bushi (read more about the yosakoi-bushi here!). As the lyrics go, a Buddhist priest was sighted buying a kanzashi (a kind of hair ornament) at a store next to the bridge, even though he had no need for one himself and being in a relationship was forbidden. So, he could only have been buying the ornament for a secret lover! There is a small statue by the bridge immortalizing the fated couple. I didn't take a photo of the statue but there's this Life in Kochi blog that has the picture.

This bridge is so iconic that when you arrive in Kochi's JR station you'll see a miniature version of it alongside some naruko (you can read about naruko in our blog post here!).


Photo credits: Daniel Rolandi

Katsurahama

Katsurahama is a crescent-shaped beach south of Kochi city. In the Yosakoi-bushi, it is said that Katsurahama is a good place to view the moon. Another notable thing is the statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, which is a good segue to the next iconic thing.


Learn more at VisitKochiJapan

Sakamoto Ryoma ((坂本龍馬)

I'll be frank: to cover everything about Sakamoto Ryoma would take longer than a small blog update. He's a prominent historical figure who contributed to the downfall of the feudal Tokugawa shogunate. At Katsurahama you can find the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum and a statue of the man himself overlooking the area. Several films, TV series, and books have been created to cover Sakamoto Ryoma's life.

You can read more about it at nippon.com and ejmas.com


You'll see a lot of photos of him in this pose!

I'll stop here for now. Tune in for the 2nd part of this series to cover the iconic elements of Kochi! Perhaps one day you'll visit there :)

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 06, 2019

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

Todoroki Stuttgart (轟シュトットガルト) was founded in December 2014 by Miyuki Kitano and friends. They attended a yosakoi workshop that did the 'Nanchuu Soran Bushi' dance held by Emiko Tanaka in Germany. Then they decided to start their own yosakoi team in Stuttgart. They grew from five people to around 15 people currently. They want to dance yosakoi and show other people Japanese culture, so anyone is welcome to join!

轟 literally translates to ‘roar’ (轟く= todoroku = to roar). "Todoroki stands for the fact that through the dance the Japanese culture spreads out into the world and pulsates," explained Ayana, "...furthermore, Stuttgart is the city of the automobile, which was another reason for the name choice."

その名の通り日本の文化が広く知れ渡る、世界にはばたけ・轟け!という意味、そしてもう1つ、ここStuttgart「車の街」ならではのイメージで名付けました!


(Photo credits: Todoroki Stuttgart)

One of their members, Nahoko, was fortunate to go to Kochi in 2018 and performed in the festival there. She returned to her team in Germany bringing many photos and videos. That inspired the other members to go to Kochi as well as to meet other yosakoi teams! However, most of their members are students, it is not easy for them to afford the journey.

Marina added: "We want to make our own experience of a real Yosakoi Festival in Japan." To add to this, Todoroki Stuttgart only performed on stage thus far, not in a parade like most teams in Kochi Yosakoi Festival. In my observation, most teams outside of Japan also experience the same.

You can visit their Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube channel

Special thanks to Marina, Ayana, and Miyuki for providing me the information in this post!

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Jan 03, 2019

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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 New Year 2019! Gone is 2018. Here comes a new year, a new 360 or so days of surprises, opportunities, and adventure. Let's give it all to our new year's resolutions!

Another important to keep fresh in our mind is one of the biggest reasons we do this fundraising: the jikatasha. This decorated music truck takes skill to create and is not cheap! For that, we're reviving the Jikatasha post from the beginning of this campaign (How nostalgic!) so you, our readers, may learn of it again.

// Daniel


It’s time to introduce you an essential ingredient of yosakoi performances in the Kochi Matsuri – 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 29, 2018

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

Pikes Peak Yosakoi Ōbirin (パイクスピークよさこい桜美輪) was founded by Laura Powell in January 2017 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Laura lived in Saitama, Japan for many years and during her last three years of stay, she was part of Koshigaya Yosakoi Ōbirin (越谷よさこい桜美輪). She showed up to their practice after seeing their performance one day, and even though she was the only foreigner in the group at the time, they were really welcoming and had members of all ages and walks of life there.

That inspired Laura greatly such that when she returned to the US in late 2016, she expressed interest in starting a Yosakoi team to the local Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado (JASSC; https://www.japanamerica.org/). That winter, the chairman contacted her with an opportunity to perform and share about yosakoi at a Girl Scouts International Fair at a local elementary school. The girl scouts from that day ended up joining the yosakoi team officially and are still members today!


Photo credits: Pikes Peak Yosakoi Ōbirin

Pikes Peak is the major defining landmark of Colorado Springs. 'Ōbirin' (桜美輪) means 'ring of beautiful sakura flowers.' "We inherited our name from Koshigaya Yosakoi Ōbirin 越谷よさこい桜美輪, our sister group," explained Laura. "Our Kaichou [leader] said if I started a group in America, to use their name for promotion and so we can use their original songs."

Aside from inherited songs, Pikes Peak Yosakoi Ōbirin also dance soh-odori songs such as 'Ai Nippon,' 'Street of the Soran,' and classics like 'Yosakoi Naruko Odori,' 'Nanchuu Soran,' and 'Urajya Ondo.' They performed at Japanese festivals such as Children's Day Festival, Mochitzuki Festival, and Denver's Cherry Blossom Festival.

"Yosakoi Japanese Festival dancing is a fabulous way to connect people from around the world, overcoming the language barrier, and sharing cultural exchange," said Laura. Laura and her teammates had a chance to go Kochi in 2018 through the Yosakoi Ambassador program by the Kochi government. "The Kochi Yosakoi Festival is truly an amazing and unforgettable experience!"

You can visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel

Special thanks to Laura for providing me the information in this post!

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 25, 2018

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

The campaign team would like to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season. We hope you stay warm or air-conditioned wherever you are!


Can you find all the naruko? (Photo credits: Natalia Kujawska of Sakuramai Poland)


Photo credits: Canada Yosakoi Team KAEDE


Here's a naruko tree from Zen Yosakoi! (Photo credits: Zen Yosakoi)


Red and black naruko colors! Just add yellow (Photo credits: Hungary Yosakoi Team Sumire)

Good News

Christmas came early for the Japanese crowdfunding campaign! We've reached our fundraising target!

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


Check out the Japanese campaign page!

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. For example, Readyfor’s payment system is entirely in Japanese and requires a Japanese postal address, which might be difficult for non-Japanese speakers to navigate! Thus having this GoGetFunding campaign makes it easier for non-Japanese speakers to contribute.

Also, 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.

Note that in either case, 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!



To send you off, here's a compilation of some of our our blog posts so you can learn more about yosakoi and the Kochi Yosakoi Festival!

Elements of Yosakoi

Kochi Yosakoi Festival

Team Intros

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 20, 2018

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

Hungary Yosakoi Team Sumire (ハンガリーよさこい連 純恋) was founded in February 2018 by Emiko Tanaka (there's a reason she is the Yosakoi Ambassador -- this is one of the five teams she founded) and Akari Tao, a Japanese exchange student studying Hungarian in the city, who since went back to Osaka, where she is part of another yosakoi team.

As sakura is to Japan and kaede (maple) to Canada, sumire is the violet (the flower with the color of the same name). What a beautiful touch!

Even though they're located in Budapest, Hungary Yosakoi Team Sumire have collaborated with Sakuramai Poland (see our post about them) two times in just one year! Other events they've performed at are usually Japan-related cultural events such as Children's Day, Japan Day at a high school, and a presentation at Japan Foundation.

They usually perform ?Yocchore?, ?Nanchuu Soran? and ?Seichou Yosakoi Naruko Odori?. If these names sound familiar to you, that's good! These are very famous yosakoi songs and dances that teams around the world are familiar with.


Photo credits: Hungary Yosakoi Team Sumire

Member of Hungary Yosakoi Team Sumire, Szab� Fl�ra has a special message for you:

"Although yosakoi is still relatively unknown in Hungary, we wish to introduce it to as many people as we can. Yosakoi is a lot of fun, and the more is definitely the merrier! We would also love to show Kochi just how far yosakoi came, how it managed to bond people outside Japan as well."

You can visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sumireyosakoi/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnL0ysn_yco2d5HBq56AE8A

Special thanks to Szabó for providing me the information in this post!

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 18, 2018

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

Naruko and flags are the staple of all yosakoi teams, but there are other accessories or props that are used in yosakoi performances. Check out some of them below!

Lanterns


Credits: This blog

These stylish handheld lanterns often come with writing and designs on them. I've only ever seen the cylindrical version in person but there's also another variety that is flat. It reminds me of a boat's sail.


Credits: yosakoinaruko.net

Fans


That's my hand!

Specifically, folding fans or sensu (扇子). The fans might have some patterns or designs on them. I've seen double-sided fans where there are different colors on each of the two sides. It makes for really interesting color coordination! See below:

Umbrellas/parasols


Source: Wikimedia

Choreography involving these umbrellas often involves opening and closing the umbrellas for dramatic effect (similar to the fans). One other cool thing you can do with these is spin them! Most of this kind of umbrella I've seen come with a spiral pattern so they look extra cool when spinning.

Matoi


Credits: This blog

I hadn’t heard of this prop until Kasia brought it up to me: matoi (纏). It reminds me of a priest's staff but it's actually a tool used by firefighters in Edo period. I'll let Wikipedia explain this one:

A matoi is used to, "notify people of a fire near or within a building. It was taken up on a roof near the burning building by the matoi holder (纏持 matoimochi) and waved to draw the attention of other groups of firefighters, who would then hurry to the site of the fire to assist." Wikipedia

Fun fact: Our member teams in Singapore and Malaysia both have ‘matoi’ in their name! They use lots of fans and lanterns in their dances.


Surely there are more kinds of props being used in yosakoi dances. One of the beautiful parts of yosakoi is its openness to innovation. Let us know in the comments if you find interesting props, or if your team uses any.

This team has a koi fish attached to their outfits!


Photo credits: Laura Powell (Source)

// Daniel

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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 14, 2018

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

We're back again to introduce another team sending their members to join the International Yosakoi Team!

This time it's Canada Yosakoi Team KAEDE from Toronto, Canada!

KAEDE was founded in January 2018 by Emiko Tanaka with the goal of participating in Kochi Yosakoi Festival. Thanks to her dedication and hard work, that dream came true -- KAEDE members banded together with other groups, including Sakuramai Poland, and performed in the 2018 Kochi Yosakoi Festival.

Emiko chose ‘kaede’ as the team name as it means ‘maple’, the national symbol of Canada -- it's the leaf on the Canadian flag! Most of KAEDE’s members were recruited through their Meetup page and e-maple, a forum for Japanese people residing in Canada (that's how Shota joined!).

To help raise awareness and funds for the entire project, KAEDE has been organizing a language exchange for several weeks at Creeds Coffee Bar. The participation fee is donated to this project. If you're in the area, you should check out their Meetup Page!

KAEDE recently held a performance and workshop at McMaster University in Hamilton (source). In the future, they're hoping to perform at the Cherry Blossom festival


Photo credits: Emiko Tanaka

They're really hardworking and nice people. Follow Canada Yosakoi Team Kaede on their Facebook page!

Special message from Emiko:

"KAEDE has been working hard to spread yosakoi around Canada and many Canadians are interested in yosakoi. KAEDE's members are excited to work with other dancers in the International Yosakoi team!"

// Daniel


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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Dec 11, 2018

Click here to return to our campaign overview and make a donation! 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

On May 25th, 2018, Shota flew to the other side of the planet to find his place in the world.


Photo credits: Remy

Shota grew up surrounded by the bountiful nature of the Tokushima prefecture, and since he turned seven years old, his whole life had been dedicated to soccer. He played through middle and high school. Interviews with famous players got him interested in going abroad and learning English. His love for soccer led him to enter the Kochi University, famous for its sport and international exchange program.

One might expect that this is the part of the story where Shota would start dancing yosakoi, since Kochi is the birthplace of the dance - however, that is not the case at all. He did have a part-time job as a staffer at the Yosakoi festival, but first and foremost, the focus of his life was on soccer and he could not imagine doing anything else.

Then, in his third year of university, he suffered a back injury.

It was painful enough to impact his ability to lead an everyday life for some time, and although his back healed, his future as a soccer player was suddenly taken away.

“Soccer was what I enjoyed the most in my life, and when I stopped being able to play, I did not know where to find joy anymore”, he says, looking back. “But I still wanted to go abroad, for a student exchange, and so I moved to Toronto for a year”.

“I was looking through ads on the E-maple site, looking for a place to live, and amongst a flood of others posts I found… a yosakoi group, led by Emiko Tanaka. I found myself dancing in the Kaede Toronto group, and next I became a member of the Sakuramai Poland International Team”, Shota explains how he made his way back to the Kochi Yosakoi Festival, this time as the tallest dancer (188 cm!) of the special international team.

Shota with Kaede Yosakoi Team (Photo credits: Remy)

The performance at the Kochi Yosakoi Festival was not just Shota’s homecoming, but also a new opening to the world. To his surprise, over 60 dancers from 12 countries who had met in one place just a few days before, instantly found a common language - not English nor Japanese, but the language of yosakoi. Shota describes it as “talking though the sound of naruko”. The team, beaming with joy and energy, went on to give it all during the festival.

“Honestly, it was supposed to be my first and last performance”, he laughs. “But it turned out to be so much fun, and I found so many friends amongst the yosakoi lovers, that I just can’t give it up. Because of the injury, I lost soccer - but I gained Yosakoi and friends all around the world.”

“If I had missed one step on the way, if I had gone to Vancouver and not Toronto, or chosen a different site than E-maple, I would not have rediscovered yosakoi for myself, or made the connections and wonderful memories I did this summer. The thought alone sends shivers down my spine”, he shudders.

Shota dancing with Sakuramai Poland International Team (Photo credits: Remy)

Shota is determined to take part in the festival next year as well, and to show off Kochi to as many foreign dancers as he can. We cannot wait to meet with him in Kochi next summer!

// Ela

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We love Yosakoi, I love dancing with my friends and family. I hope to see the team go to Kochi!

Anna-marie Pico

Backed with $100.00 On Dec 16, 2018

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Yuka Saito

Backed with $72.00 On Dec 10, 2018

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Isaac Chui

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Anonymous

Backed with $250.00 On Dec 03, 2018

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For GIVING TUESDAY, I did't buy any coffee and sweet on Tuesday! Let's go to Kochi to perform together. We can do it!

Emiko Tanaka

Backed with $10.00 On Nov 29, 2018

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Let's work together. We can do it! Always thank you for working very hard for our team! What I can do is nothing, but I can donate. Let's make our dream come true!!!

Shota Kinoshita

Backed with $100.00 On Nov 19, 2018

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