Yosakoi Festival! Feel free to join in and dance! (This event will be canceled in 2020.)
During this summer festival, the whole of central Kochi City turns into a stage for vivid dance performances.
The great thing about the Yosakoi Festival is that you don't have to just stand and watch, you can jump right in and dance too! For those coming outside of the festival season, there are places and events held where you can still get a sense of the spirit of Yosakoi!
What exactly is the Yosakoi Festival?
Yosakoi is a large scale festival running for 4 days every year from August 9th to 12th in the heart of Kochi City. During Yosakoi, about 200 teams totalling approx. 20,000 people from within Japan and even overseas gather to dance. Vibrant and energetic dance performances rotate around 16 locations within the city. The popularity of Yosakoi crosses borders, with 29 countries and regions from around the world making dance teams and performing at events etc. (as at September 2019)
The real charm of the Yosakoi Festival is that each team has their own costumes and choreography, bringing their own style to the performance. Of course, the ornately decorated music trucks, called jikatasha, are another fun element of the celebration.
The whole town center turns into a powerful live-house performance of dance and music - something you need to experience for yourself!!
See all the performances for free or pay for seats to get an even better view!
The Yosakoi Festival is performed at 16 venues within Kochi City; 9 of which are kyoenjo (competition venue) and 7 enbujo (places where performances are held for fun). Paid seating is only on offer at Otsesuji Kyoenjo, where many of the teams come to outperform each other. You can purchase either day or night tickets for sessions running between August 10th to 12th. All other performance venues are generally standing only, however you can watch Yosakoi teams dancing throughout the day for free!
There is a large stage at Chuo-Koen Kyoenjo which boasts performances not seen anywhere else. A spectator tent is set up at the Asahi Enbujo, while Hata Enbujo offers free seating. Following teams you spot around town to each of the performance venues is another way to enjoy Yosakoi!
Anyone can join in!
The rules of Yosakoi require dancers to march forward holding naruko clappers in their hands as well as incorporating phrases from Yosakoi Bushi, a famed local folk song, into their dance music. Besides these rules, dancers are free to dance in their own style!
It doesn't matter your language or cultural background, as long as you have naruko in your hands, you can join in - that's the great thing about Yosakoi!
If the power of the Yosakoi atmosphere gets you in the mood to dance along, there are teams that you can rock up to on the day and dance with! You can participate with these open teams on August 10th and 11th.
①Attaka Kochi Dance Team
For both domestic tourists from outside of Kochi and overseas tourists (groups of up to 10 people can join)
Date: August 10th to 11th
Reception opens at 5:00pm at the Kochi City Hall Square (Kochi Shiyakusho-mae Hiroba)
Disband at 10:00pm
Participation Fee: Adults - ¥3,000 (includes Happi coat made from Tosa Washi paper and naruko clappers)
※Please make a booking in advance by either fax or phone
Bookings and enquiries can be made through the Kochi City Ryokan and Hotels Association (高知市旅館ホテル協同組合)
② Shimin Kensho Yosakoi Dance Team
Anyone can join!
Date: August 10th to 11th
Reception opens around 2:00pm (at Kochi Ote-mae High School grounds)
Disband at 8:30pm
Participation fee: Free (Paper Happi Coats cost ¥500 on a first come, first served basis)
What to bring: naruko clappers (naruko clappers can be bought on the day)
Contact: Kochi Shimin Kensho Suishin Kyogikai Office (高知市民憲章推進協議会事務局)
*information as of 2019.
Yosakoi anytime! at the Kochi Yosakoi Information Exchange Center
You can find the spirit of Yosakoi all year round in Kochi!
The Kochi Yosakoi Information Exchange Center promotes this incredible festival through colorful costumes, and panel and video displays. Inside the Center, you can put on a Yosakoi costume, grab some naruko and dance along to an instructional video. You can also have a picture taken while you're in costume!
There's also a naruko-making corner. Why not make your own unique naruko as a souvenir of your time in Kochi!
Note: There are English explanations on panels. An app in English is available for information on the center. There's also an English speaking staff member here.
If you missed the Yosakoi Festival, don't worry. There are events held outside of the festival where you can see real life Yosakoi performances.
During the day every Sunday from spring to summer, the Machinaka Yosakoi is held at Obiya-machi in the heart of Kochi City. The Machinaka Yosakoi is where performing teams come to dance and practice in preparation for the real thing.
There's also Yosakoi Éncore, an event running for about 7 days in late August where you can still see Yosakoi performances even after the main event has finished! At 6:00pm each day in the Ohashi-dori Shopping Arcade, 3 teams present a dance using naruko.
On-the-spot Yosakoi Dance lessons are also available here offering a second-chance to experience the real passion of the festival. You can buy Yosakoi gear and souvenirs here as well.
When: Every Sunday, 12:00pm to 2:30pm, April 7th to June 9th
Where: Obiya-machi & Ohashi-dori, Kochi City
When: 6:00pm to 6:45pm, August 19th to 25th
Where: Ohashi-dori Shopping Arcade
When: Every Sunday, August 18th to December 22nd
Kochi Tabihiroba Event Stage (In front of Kochi Station) - Time: 11:30am to 11:50am & 12:00pm to 12:20pm
Harimaya-bashi Shopping Arcade - Time: 1:30pm to 1:50pm & 2:00pm to 2:20pm