Monday, August 15, 2005


Day 1 (Aug. 10th) -- Part I --

I woke up and thanked God (and minor tranquilizer) for giving me some sleep the previous night. It was the day of a big challenge and lack of sleep was the last thing I wanted.

Dancers #1

Our team was supposed to meet at 11:00 a.m., but I had breakfast in a great hurry because I had to finish hemming up the pants of my dance costume. Luckily, fixing the costume didn’t take too long, but putting it on took some time --- I had a bit hard time dealing with the bandanna. Usually women wear heavy makeup and decorate hair with things like flowers, ornaments or chopsticks. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try anything fancy.

As I sneaked out of the apartment, I prayed that no one would see me because the costume looked too “different” in the everyday-life environment. But when I was unlocking my bike, there came one of my neighbors. She found me and said “OMG! You’re dancing! Hey, I’m gonna come and see you dance tomorrow!” The whole neighborhood must have heard it…. After thanking her with a grin on my face, I rushed to our meeting place on my bike. The long sleeves of my costume looked like two little parachutes and everyone on the street was watching me. Boy, it was sooo embarrassing…!!

Dancers #2

We met at a small shopping arcade near Harimayabashi. I signed in there, received my lunch and ate it with team mates in a nearby park. My team consisted of participants from all over Japan, and most of them were new to the team, so it was easier for a newcomer like me to make friends. When waiting for our first dance performance, experienced members looked pretty comfortable, but new dancers looked a little nervous. To be honest, I wasn’t sure of several dance moves at that point, but I was going to take it easy and follow whatever the person in front of me would do ;P

Usually in Yosakoi dance parade, dancers line up in 3 to 4 lines and parade, dancing all the way through. In front of each team goes a leading truck with audio equipments and team leader(s) on. Dancers follow the leading truck that moves very slowly playing the dance music, and the leader(s) talk, sing and shout with big gestures to lift the team spirit. When our turn came, the leader introduced the team to the audience, and the music started.

Dancers #3

The first dance was just so-so. Our team members practiced at home individually but didn’t have a chance to get together and practice parading as a team, so keeping a formation was rather hard in the beginning. Besides, in the small shopping arcade, the audience stood too close to us as we danced and I was always worried about hitting the audience with my naruko clappers.

But obviously, the biggest problem was nothing else but my stamina. In the middle of the dance, I noticed that the workout at the castle or the jogging by the river didn’t really prepare me for this festival. I felt dizzy a few times after making quick turns. Smiling at the audience was out of question. I was just so happy when we got to the end of the arcade. Gee, how many more times do I have to do this?! It was a big mistake that I decided to dance this year…I’m too old for this!! I couldn’t catch my breath even after gulping down a few cups of iced tea at the water booth.

Dancers #4

When we were at the prefectural office, a real heavy squall started all of a sudden. That’s the worst thing that can happen to the audio equipments and PA system on the leading truck, but it does happen every year. The team staff hurried to the truck to cover the electric equipment with big tarps and we dancers broke into small groups to shelter the rain. I sympathized with the teams that were dancing in the heavy rain. I’ve done it before and I knew how heavy the costume got when soaked wet by the squall. But of course, no team stopped dancing. That’s always the way it is with this festival--- no rain can stop the passion of the dance nuts.

After 10 or 15 minutes, the rain stopped. It definitely got cooler than before and we were so happy about it. We danced right in front of the prefectural office two rounds and headed for the next venue, Otesuji street. Yes, it was time for a TV appearance.

Photos by Mr. K. Kawasaki.
* Photos are not quite related to the story.
posted by obachan, 8/15/2005 10:47:00 PM


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