Yosakoi Festival, Harajuku; 5,000 dancers= Awesome!

The Yosakoi Festival is a dance competition held every year in Harajuku, featuring over 5,000 dancers (about 100 teams) from all over Japan. 5,000 dancers? You know I’m there! Yosakoi dance originated in Kochi City, Japan, which still boasts the largest competition in the country, but Harajuku is a close second. And much closer to home.

Hand fans are a very typical “hand out” at any Tokyo event.

We wandered around the Meiji Shrine before the dancing began. It was so fun to see so many dancers in colorful costumes.

Time for the show to begin. They had three different stages set up in different areas, and non-stop dancing all day long, and into the night, on every stage.

This was some sort of opening ceremony. They broke open casks of something. Sake, maybe?

We passed through the large and always entertaining, Yoyogi Park, to get to the other stage. Lots of groups practicing here.

The girls especially liked seeing kids their age. (My girls are wearing a traditional Japanese shorts outfit called jinbei, which is very commonly worn to summer festivals by children, even adults.)

So cute!

Team pow-wow?

Ella loves these face cut-out signs, which we do see often over here.

Let the dancing begin!

I absolutely loved how there were dancers of all ages, including some very elderly ladies down to the smallest of kids.

Most groups used large flags, as part of the choreography. There was also a lot of chanting and yelling things throughout the number.

The colors were so beautiful on stage.

The music ranged from traditional, to more modern sounding Japanese pop music. The only requirements are that wooden shakers called, naruko must be used at some point, and they must refer to soran- an old Hokkaido fishing song, at some point. This could actually mean someone at the microphone saying the word or singing it at different times. Other than that, it seemed to be, anything goes.

 There was so much energy and enthusiasm, I could’ve watched all day long. I think that is my plan next year!

Also, going on at the same time was the World’s Best Udon competition. I am not exactly sure how the voting was happening, but there were dozen’s of noodle stands set up. After ordering, you were given a ticket, which was probably to be turned in somewhere. There is always a lot of guessing, when you live here!

 The noodles are usually just submerged in water, very quickly, and can be served, hot or cold, with gravy or broth, etc. And the toppings are almost endless, as well.

I would call this a very typical bowl of udon. Thick buckwheat noodles in dashi broth, scallions, seaweed, panko, and topped with a raw egg that cooks in the broth.

Udon and ramen are definitely Japanese food staples.

Udon also happens to be Ella’s favorite Japanese dish. She is acquiring quite a taste for which place is better than another! After a noodle break, we had more looking to do.

All of the dancers used these little wooden clapper instruments, called naruko, which were also for sale in many different tents.

There was also an all-day parade going on down one of the side streets.

Also, a place for group photos.

Yes, Japan even has smoking tents for outdoor activities. They are a very courteous culture.

I absolutely love the impromptu posing! These are my kind of gals!

Meanwhile, back in Yoyogi Park……(?!)

Back at Shinjuku Station, after another great festival. But my only question is, how do I get on a team? I’m desperate to perform at Yosakoi next year! Such fun!


  1. Amara
    September 4, 2014 / 2:00 pm

    I love all of the costumes and colors! That would be so fun to watch. Didn't all of you sisters do dance competitions and performances forever? Maybe you could submit a resume somewhere! Sounds so fun. I bought thick udon at the Asian store the other day for my family to try. I'm a huge fan.

  2. Laura
    September 15, 2014 / 2:22 am

    I want to try those noodles!

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