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~ From Kochi to the world, from the world to Kochi ~
Help the 2019 Yosakoi International Team achieve our dream of joining the Kochi Yosakoi Festival, in the birthplace of the Yosakoi dance, as a truly global team!
What is the 2019 Yosakoi International Team?
The 2019 Yosakoi International Team is a global project, to share Japan's unique Yosakoi dance with teams across the world. Through the project, dancers from different countries, cultures and languages, but all with a single shared passion, will become one team. We will join together to dance in the Yosakoi Matsuri (festival) in the birthplace of Yosakoi, Kochi, Japan.
The 2019 International Team has grown out of the Sakuramai Poland 2018 International Team, which brought 63 members from 12 countries to Kochi to perform ‘Kizuna’ meaning ‘bond’, driven by Polish members and Sakuramai Poland Yosakoi Ambassador, Emiko Tanaka. In 2018 team was Polish in origin but international in spirit. But in 2019, the project will be fully international in both name and nature, allowing all members to feel that there is a place for them!
(Don’t know much about Yosakoi? Don’t worry! There’s a short explanation about the dance style at the end of this post, so stay with us! Follow our updates too, to see more about the project as it develops)
What is your team's mission?
Already, we have over 100 interested dancers, support staff, and event managers emotionally invested in bringing our dream to life. We’re already working in trans-national project teams spanning Europe, Asia, the Americas and more.
So, what exactly are we doing?
To be eligible to perform in the Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri, every team, including ours, needs:
- a new song
- unique choreography
- exciting, attractive costumes that reflect the team spirit
- ‘naruko’ instruments for each dancer
- a ‘jikatasha’ music truck
- a dedicated, well-stocked support team
This is what we’re building, the backbone of a real Yosakoi team.
It takes countless hours, significant expense and painstaking effort to compose the music, design the costumes, thresh out the choreography and construct the truck. Individually, these items can cost thousands of dollars, and combined can run into the tens of thousands of dollars… too much for any one of us to cover on our own.
This isn’t everything! Just the largest items. Securing all of these essentials is already winning half the battle. After we have met these, our dancers can practice the dance to give our full effort, safe in the knowledge that we have everything we need.
After we have performed in Kochi our memories and the dance will be ours to cherish and share with people in our home countries. We will continue to share our dance as a gift from Kochi, breaking down barriers and building understanding between different cultures.
But right now, to get us to the festival, we’re working across different timezones, late into the night, in our spare time. Because our hearts are set on this goal we’re already contributing our own time and funds to do what we can, but we need your help to give us that vital extra support.
Why do you need donations?
The costs are shared between the team, so the more people who can join, the more affordable it becomes for all of us. Unfortunately, this also means that if we have only a few members who can join, they’ll shoulder extremely high costs on their own.
On top of the costs above, as an international team we also face costs to joining that local teams do not face, including travel to and from Kochi and accommodation costs.
Unlike Japanese teams, it’s harder for us to secure ongoing sponsorship as an international team, and as a new team, we are unable to reuse or remix previous year’s costumes, choreography, cars or items. We don’t yet have the traction as an established team.
Finally, not all of our members are from wealthy countries, or wealthy circumstances. Many international members save up all year to travel to Kochi for just the five days of the festival.
Because of this, your donations will not only help us build the essential backbone of the team, but also help lower the barrier these members to join, allowing people to experience true Kochi and Japanese culture who otherwise would never have the chance.
[Most Recent Campaign Update]
You can check our regular campaign updates in the updates tab, but just to make sure you're seeing them, here's a quick summary of our most recent update:
[Watch this space!]
What can I get for supporting the team?
We’re grateful for any and all donations you can provide! To show our thanks, we’ve prepared gifts for all donators, on behalf of the whole dance and project team.
Check out the gift descriptions on the side bar, we'll summarise them here shortly, too!
How can I follow you on your journey?
We will update this page regularly with personal stories, news and information about Yosakoi, so you can live every moment with us! If you’re interested, we’d love it if you followed us on social media, too!
Emiko Tanaka, Yosakoi Ambassador, was the driving force behind the Sakuramai Poland 2018 International team, she’s leading the charge again for the 2019 project, and you can follow her below:
Emiko Tanaka’s website: https://yosakoiambassador.com/
Emiko Tanaka’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/yosakoiambassador/
You can also follow her on Instagram @yosakoiambassador
Of course, what would an international dance team be without its dancers? Here’s a quick list of the teams who’ll join us on this great journey, we’ll update and introduce them to you as we go! There are so many teams involved, probably one in your country too please follow us, send us a message, and show your support!
Watch this space as we update the teams list!
What is Yosakoi?
Hello! So you’ve scrolled down this far, because you’d like to learn more about yosakoi, or you started reading from the bottom of the page going up, or for whatever reason, welcome! Here, we’ll quickly get you up to speed on what exactly is this fascinating called yosakoi, and how it has enchanted audiences for over 60 years. Better writers than me have written about Yosakoi before, so please research more if you’re interested, but here’s a quick intro:
Yosakoi is a contemporary dance that can blend anything from traditional Japanese dance and hip hop, to ballet and modern jazz, but its roots trace back much further. Yosakoi has similarities to the awa odori from nearby Tokushima Prefecture and bon odori of the Obon observance.
Like awa odori, it is danced in the sweltering peak of summer requiring dancers to have stamina, strength and grace. Because of its splendid costumes, throbbing music, and exhilarating atmosphere, Kochi’s Yosakoi Matsuri has been compared to Carnaval in Rio de Janiero.
What makes Yosakoi slightly different from other comparable dances is its freeform style. Only two rules define yosakoi:
1) Dancers must move forward holding naruko clappers (a mix between a paddle and a castanet)*
2) The song must use an excerpt from the ‘Yosakoi Bushi’ song
This light structure gives yosakoi its form, and also its great freedom for creative expression. Teams performing in the Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri used to have hundreds of people, but were capped at 150 in the late 20th century.
* yosakoi can also be performed on a stage. Other props are permitted and often include hand-held lanterns, fans, and umbrellas
Yosakoi is now popular across the whole of Japan, with countless festivals and teams. Needless to say, it’s also winning fans abroad, supported by student exchange, expat communities, and yosakoi ambassador programs.
Where is Kochi?
Kochi City (高知市, Kōchi) is the capital of Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island, nestled in the long curve of Tosa Bay. Because it faces the Pacific Ocean, Kochi boasts large open beaches for surfing and swimming, rich seafood and whale-watching opportunities.
Apart from Yosakoi, Kochi is famous for yuzu, an exquisitely sweet and sour citrus fruit, katsuo tataki, lightly seared skipjack tuna, and Sakamoto Ryoma, a prominent Japanese historical figure who fought against the feudal Tokugawa Shogunate.
Kochi is a beautiful city, and the perfect place to dance Yosakoi!