Monday, June 10, 2013

Sapporo "Yosakoi Souran" Matsuri 2013

Last year, Ted and I attended this festival together.  This weekend, he was on a camping trip with his outdoor skills class, so I was on my own.  As I was walking to the bus stop, a car passed me and the driver waved. People often wave to me and I don’t always know who they are, so I waved and continued walking.  I saw the car pull over and recognized the driver as a woman I know.  She is active in the International Exchange Society and is the wife of a University coach and professor. She asked where I was going as and as it turned out she was going to Sapporo to visit her mother and invited me to ride with her.  Ted is busy with his classes and field trips, but as a foreign instructor he doesn’t have near the obligations that the Japanese professors have.  In addition to the classes and advising and meetings and research and publishing and conferences, many are also coaches with practices and competitions. Her husband was gone for a sports competition and she referred to herself as a soccer widow. The ride with her was much more pleasant than riding the bus and I enjoyed talking with her.

This is the festival’s description online:
Every year Sapporo holds a "Yosakoi" dance festival, known as the "Yosakoi Souran Matsuri".
The original Yosakoi festival began in the city of Kōchi, down South in the Shikoku region in 1954. Since then, it has become popular throughout Japan, with many Yosakoi festivals held in a number of prefectures, and the Sapporo Yosakoi Souran Matsuri, which began in 1992, is one of the most well-known Yosaki festivals in the country.

Many Yosakoi dance teams from all over Hokkaido, as well as from other areas of Japan,  perform their routines over the 5 days over 19 different venues, either on stage or as a parade through the city. There is judging and contests for some dance performances.

I like seeing dance of all kinds, but my main purpose this day was to see one of my university students and his group dance. I arrived at the venue (in front of the train station) about half an hour before his group was scheduled to perform to make sure I wouldn’t miss him. His group is large and there were often dancers in front of him, so I did not get good photos, but I was happy I was able to see him.

I saw several performances before his.  The dancers are of all ages and the groups of various sizes.  There are often one or two group members on a stage behind the other dancers, singing or calling out syllables, maybe directions? I couldn’t tell what they were saying.

The colorful costumes are very interesting!  There are often several costume “changes” within a few minutes as the dancers’ tops become skirts or sleeves turn inside out or sometimes outer costumes are taken off and thrown to the side of the stage.

The first three pictures are the same group

This picture and the next are the same group

After leaving the venue at the train station, I went to Odori Park and watched one the parades from the street side bleachers. There are two parade routes with groups back to back the entire time.

As with all festivals, there were many choices of food vendors. I’m never sure what the food for sale is, so I ate the lunch I brought and only bought a drink.

I walked around watching the dancers at other venues and the people in general. The lilacs are in bloom and smell heavenly.

Even though I was wearing sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen, I knew I needed to be mindful of the time I was in the sun, so I headed for home mid-afternoon.  It was another good day in Hokkaido. 

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