Dance to the rhythms of Kochi at the Yosakoi Festival!
During this summer dance festival, the center of Kochi City turns into a stage for vivid performances, parades and celebrations. If the rhythm takes you, you can jump right in and dance along too! Don’t worry if you missed the festival season, as we will share some spots where you can experience the spirit of yosakoi all year round!
※The Yosakoi Festival in 2021 has been cancelled.
About the Yosakoi Festival
This large-scale festival held in the city of Kochi runs from August 9th to 12th every year. Yosakoi is an energetic style of group dancing that originated in Kochi. Dancers in elaborate, colorful costumes proceed forward, moving to the beat of music based on a folk song called yosakoi-bushi . People flock to see the vibrant dance performances, which rotate around 16 locations within the city.
As Kochi is the heart of yosakoi culture, the yearly festival is a big deal, attracting around 200 teams (and approximately 20,000 dancers) not only from within Japan but from all over the world. The popularity of yosakoi crosses borders, and as of March 2021 there are dance teams in 33 countries and regions.
One of the things that makes the Yosakoi Festival such a vivid spectacle is that each team has wildly different costumes and choreography, bringing their own style to the performance. Often the teams are accompanied by ornately decorated music trucks, called jikatasha , another fun element of the celebration.
Seeing Kochi City transform into a massive open-air stage filled with dancing and music is something you need to experience for yourself!
How To See The Dance Performances
The Yosakoi Festival takes place at 16 venues around Kochi City; 9 are competition venues (kyoenjo ) and 7 are more relaxed performance spaces (enbujo ). To see the top dancers show off their skills, book a seat at Otsesuji Kyoenjo, where the teams come to outperform each other. Day or night tickets for sessions running between August 10th to 12th are available for purchase but move fast as tickets tend to sell out. Most of the other performance venues are standing only, and you can watch yosakoi teams dancing around the city throughout the day for free!
A few other spots to catch the action are the large stage at Chuo-Koen Kyoenjo, where you can see exclusive dances not performed at any other venues. There is also a spectator tent set up at Asahi Enbujo, while Hata Enbujo offers free seating.
Join in the Dancing
The rules of yosakoi dancing are surprisingly simple: dancers have to proceed forward while holding naruko clappers in their hands, and the music needs to incorporate phrases from the yosakoi-bushi folk song. Beyond that, dance teams are free to create their own style of choreography!
Yosakoi transcends countries, languages and cultural differences, and people in Kochi are thrilled to share this dance with anyone interested. If watching the performances has got your feet tapping and you are itching to join in the fun, there are two teams that accept walk-ins on August 10th and 11th.
Attaka Kochi Dance Team
They welcome groups of up to 10 people.
Date: August 10th to 11th
Reception opens at 5:00pm at Kochi City Hall Square (Kochi Shiyakusho-mae Hiroba)
Disband at 10:00pm
Participation Fee: ¥3,000 for adults (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)
Shimin Kensho Yosakoi Dance Team
Anyone can join this friendly team!
Date: August 10th to 11th
Reception opens around 2:00pm at Kochi Otemae High School grounds
Disband at 8:30pm
Participation fee: Free (Paper happi coats available for ¥500 on a first come, first served basis)
What to bring: Naruko clappers (available for sale around the city)
Contact: Kochi Shimin Kensho Suishin Kyogikai Office (高知市民憲章推進協議会事務局)
*Information valid as of 2019.
Kochi Yosakoi Information Exchange Center
You can discover the spirit of yosakoi all year round at the Kochi Yosakoi Information Exchange Center, where you can learn more about the festival through colorful costumes, panels and video displays.
Visitors can even try on a yosakoi costume, grab some naruko and dance along to an instructional video. Be sure to get your picture taken while in costume! There's also a naruko-making corner, so you can make a pair of clappers as a souvenir of your time in Kochi.
Entrance is free, and the naruko -making experience is ¥1,000
Note: There are English explanations on panels. An app in English is available for information on the center, and some staff can speak English.
No need to worry if you missed the Yosakoi Festival, as there are plenty of chances to catch smaller performances throughout the year.
Every Sunday from spring to summer, you can watch Machinaka Yosakoi at the Obiyamachi shopping arcade in the heart of Kochi City. This is where the dance teams come to practice in preparation for the festival.
There's also Yosakoi Éncore, an event that runs for 7 days in late August where you can still see yosakoi performances even after the main event! Every day at 6:00pm in the Ohashidori shopping arcade, 3 teams show off their moves. They also offer dance lessons.
When: Every Sunday, 12:00pm to 2:30pm, April 7th to June 9th
Where: Obiyamachi and Ohashidori shopping Arcades
When: 6:00pm to 6:45pm, August 19th to 25th
Where: Ohashidori Shopping Arcade
When: Every Sunday, August 18th to December 22nd
Where:Kochi Tabihiroba Event Stage (in front of Kochi Station) - 11:30am to 11:50am and 12:00pm to 12:20pm
Harimayabashi Shopping Arcade - Time: 1:30pm to 1:50pm and 2:00pm to 2:20pm