An energetic carnival of the Southern Tosa
During the four days of the festival which consist of August 9th (the festival eve), August 10th and 11th (the two main days) and August 12th (the final night/national competition), about 19,000 dancers armed with naruko (small wooden clappers) and belonging to about 200 teams parade through the downtown area while dancing to the Yosakoi Bushi within Kochi City’s 9 contest areas and 7 theaters in a passionate festival. Depending on the team, the costumes vary from the traditional happi coat to elaborately designed and unique outfits and hairstyles, and a variety of music and choreography are shown by each of the teams which arrange anything from a Japanese style to samba. The naruko which has been called the symbol of the Yosakoi was once a farming tool whose sound used to shoo away birds from the crops, but has now been incorporated into the dance and has become one of the instruments to create the music through its clacking sounds produced by both hands. It has become an indispensable item for the Yosakoi Festival.
Competitions continuously roll out by teams with plenty of pride on the line
The festival first took place after the Second World War as the Kochi City Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea to boost the citizens’ health and prosperity. From 1999, team competitions began on a national level for the Yosakoi Prize in which a panel of 10 judges rated performances based on categories of song, dance, naruko clacking, costume and the truck with the music broadcast source (known as a jikata-sha). In addition, individual prizes were selected at all competition venues with various types of medals being awarded. The number of people taking part in a team has ranged from a record low of 4 people to a record high of 800 participants. The power and scale of a team with around 100 dancers is amazing so this carnival of passion is incredible for observers. In watching the festival, there are reserved seats which can be purchased in advance and free unreserved seats which are available on the day of the performances.