Send the International Yosakoi Team to Kochi 2019

Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Feb 21, 2019

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Emiko Tanaka is one of the world's certified Yosakoi Meisters (one who spreads yosakoi to countries where there are not yet any yosakoi teams -- she has started more than five groups so far!) and is our group's leader. She has been masterfully orchestrating our efforts to participate in the Kochi Yosakoi Festival this year.

Recently, Emiko wrote an article on the web magazine Yosari talking about her involvement in the world of yosakoi, the teams she started, and how she led an international team to Kochi in 2018. She shares her vision to make yosakoi a part of 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

You can find the article here: https://yosakoijapan.net/en/archives/56

Please enjoy it and share it with your friends and family!

// Daniel


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Update posted by Daniel Rolandi On Feb 08, 2019

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Logo designed by Keiji Matsumoto

I was able to interview Yosakoi Ambassador Emiko Tanaka regarding the meaning behind our team's name and theme. Here are her responses below:

In 2018, our theme was ‘KIZUNA’ (bonds). It dramatically expressed the bonds we built through connecting dancers from around the world through Yosakoi.

For 2019, the theme will be ‘WA!’ We are connecting the people of the world through Yosakoi, a part of Japanese (和 read as 'wa') traditional culture, creating a giant ring (輪 'wa') that connects us and overcomes cultural and language barriers, and putting forth a spectacular performance that will delightfully surprise (ワッ 'wa') our audience.

I think it's a great theme! Plus, I personally love it when the same sound has multiple meanings like that :D

What's next?

Right now some of our industrious members are brainstorming for costume design. We're also working with a professional music group to come up with our song. I'm excited to see what they'll come up with! Then of course there will be the choreography that we'll learn in the months leading up to the Kochi Yosakoi Festival.

Thanks to our campaign contributors such as you, all of these pieces are coming together! I can't wait until the day of the festival!

// Daniel

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Update posted by Kochi 2019 On Jan 31, 2019

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Yosakoi is enjoyed across the globe and Singapore is no exception! With its wonderful background as a cultural meeting point in the heart of South East Asia, it’s only fitting that Singapore boasts a Yosakoi team, too.

Without further ado, here’s Singapore YOSAKOI Soran Seiran [MATOI]!

We were lucky enough for the leader of the Singapore Seiran, Uno-san, to write us an introduction to the team, and we have a video to share! Both are Japanese, so we’ve done our best to give you a quick translated run-down about the team’s founding and achievements.


Singapore Seiran was founded to allow parents and children alike to have fun, experience Yosakoi and Yosakoi Soran, and make memories. My dictionary suggests the kanji that make up Seiran mean ‘star orchid’, so we’ve got another wonderful team named after a plant, like Canada's Kaede (maple), Poland's Sakuramai (cherry) and Hungary’s Sumire (violet). (Follow the links to learn more about those teams!)

Singapore Seiran has performed at events all across Singapore including (take a deep breath):

  • the Japan Fair held at what is now the ION Orchard Mall,
  • the Lantern Festival at the Chinese Garden,
  • the Summer Festival and Sports Fair held by the Japanese Association at the Japanese School of Singapore’s primary campus in Changi,
  • half-time shows at soccer games,
  • Takashimaya department store, Daimaru, ISETAN, and
  • the Hokkaido Fair held at SOGO (you can breathe out now!).


(Image supplied by Ho Jia Lin, Singapore Seiran Matoi)

In 2002, the team even represented Singapore at the YOSAKOI Soran Festival in Hokkaido. Singapore YOSAKOI Seiran MATOI also has an older branch based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Singaporean and Malaysian Seiran [MATOI] teams were both recognised as Yosakoi ambassadors in 2017.

A handful of members from Singapore Seiran joined the Sakuramai Poland International team in 2018, and they’re looking forward to joining the 2019 Yosakoi International team in Kochi again this year!

If you’d like to learn even more about this splendid Singaporean Seiran Soran team, you can find their Facebook page here!



- Will

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Update posted by Kochi 2019 On Jan 25, 2019

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Hello all! In our mission to spread love and appreciation of Yosakoi around the world, we’ve prepared introductions to a few of the key items and concepts.

If you’ve missed those in our Yosakoi 101 series, then you can catch up by following the links below, before we introduce the next essential ingredient - tabi footwear! We’ve got you covered from head to toe!

Here's where you can catch up:


- learn about yosakoi dancing accessories (umbrellas, lanterns, staffs and more!)
- check out some eye catching cloth in this post about flagbearers
- who doesn't enjoy a bit of recognition! Take a squiz at our post on festival medals
- give a listen to the song behind it all, the Yosakoi Naruko Odori
- ride a moving rock concert on the jikatasha music truck
- see the only farming device-turned-musical instrument we know of, the yosakoi naruko clappers

But for now, tabi!


(Image source: Lou Shoe - Tabi Japan early 20th century P87.80ab - URL)

Now, tabi (足袋, literally ‘foot bag’) are a type of traditional Japanese footwear that have been worn for centuries. They resemble a cloven sock with a special split by the big toe. You can see them in the image above. Fancy, hey? If you’ve ever donned a kimono, or done martial arts you may have seen (or even worn!) a pair yourself. Yosakoi uses a special kind of tabi with a thicker rubber sole, called jika-tabi (地下足袋). You can see a pair of these jika-tabi in the photo below!

(Image source: Wikimedia commons - URL)

Modern tabi designed for yosakoi are made of a light but strong, canvas fabric. The kind we wore in the Sakuramai Poland International team in 2018 had small hooks rather than laces, which took a bit of getting used to.

(Image source: Will (author))

They’re worn tightly around the foot and ankle. This allows dancers to keep a strong grip on wet or uneven ground, and helps prevent blisters. Wearing a good pair of tabi is like wearing a pair of firm, comfortable socks! But you better believe that with after days of dancing and dried sweat, they can end up smelling a lot worse. I probably should have washed mine…

  • Will
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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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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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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!

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Backed with $10.00 On Nov 29, 2018

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