From Wednesday, thousands of performers took to the streets of Sapporo dressed in vivid, colourful costumes to parade lavishly energetic and feverishly choreographed routines.
Taking place between the 8th and 12th of June, the Yosakoi Soran Festival is a loud, boisterous event that turns the normally calm city streets of Sapporo into a sprawling and bustling stage, with 30,000 competing performers and over two million spectators enjoying the music, dancing and festivities of this traditional folk-throwback.
In the competition, performing groups come together to sing and dance; and cheered on by the excited horde, they need only pay heed to two rules:
- All performers must hold naruko in their hands as they dance; a type of clacking tool that was hung in fields to scare away birds from farmer’s crops. Since being used in the Kochi Yasakoi Festival, these percussion instruments have grown in popularity, and become a recognisable part of the Yosakoi dance’s identity.
- All groups must also incorporate phrases from the Soran Bushi into their song: The Soran Bushi is a type of traditional folk song which Hokkaido fishermen used to sing as they fished for herring. Full of passion and vigour, it’s easy to see how the vitality and power at the heart of this fishing song has helped to shape the event into the energy-saturated beast that it has become.
Over the four days, multiple parades and main stage competition rounds take place all over the city, including individual competitions for junior competitors. Inhabiting the same area of the city as the famous Sapporo Ice Festival, the extensive Odori park; onlookers follow the parades towards the main stage; and much like the winter’s ice festival, there is also a huge array of delicious delights available to satisfy the most dynamic of dancers in the Northern Food Park.
With a raucous clacking and a crashing wave of applause, the 8th of June marked the beginning of the 25th Yosakoi Soran Festival, and with it, the beginning of Summer.
For an event schedule and further information, check the official 25th Yosakoi Soran website for more details!
Source images accessed www.welcome.city.sapporo.jp, www.yosakoi-soran.jp, www.taiko-center.co.jp June 2016