Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Day 2 (Aug. 11th) - Part 2 -

It was late in the evening and already getting dark when we danced on Otesuji street again on the second day. This time the dance was not televised. Some team members said that they loved dancing at night better, because the bright lights along the street “turn them on,” and I agreed. The extraordinary atmosphere was intensified as the familiar sights of the town melted in the dark.

Dancers #13

Before we started dancing, the leader on the leading truck joked, “All the performances before this were just practices. THIS is the real show time! Put your best smile on your face!” I wasn’t hoping for getting a medal there, because I thought the flower medal, the best prize, was too much to ask. Instead, I really wanted to explore “my style” to be prepared for our performance at the last venue, which was going to be much shorter than the one at Otesuji. I wanted to finish the festival with my best dance.

I think all dancers know that everyone’s dance is unique and different even when dancing the same choreography. I’m no professional and I haven’t been in a dance class or anything before, but just participating in this festival for two days, I started feeling the desire to dance “my dance.” I didn’t want to look just like anyone. I wanted to move in the way that only I could do, and impress the audience in the way that no one else could do. After our performance started there, I noticed that other team members were feeling the same way.

When I came close to the judges, still I was experimenting two different ways of clapping the naruko clappers to see which had less risk of dropping them. Then I noticed that one judge pointed at me. He quickly told his assistant to give me one of the things she held in her arms --- a flower medal!

Dancers #14

Honestly, I felt mixed feelings all at once. I felt relieved, delighted, proud, guilty and pressured. The last one, the pressure, came from the thought that I should be dancing like a medal winner so that the members and the audience wouldn’t think “Why could she get the medal with THAT dance?!” When the performance there was finally over, several team mates congratulated me and I felt happy, but with a little bit of guilty feeling still remaining inside.

Finally we came to the last venue, a small shopping street that I usually go through on my way to the office I work at in the daytime. Knowing that was going to be our last performance, the whole team was ready to go nuts.

The leader’s voice was already cracking from shouting all the time for two days. The members around me were obviously trying to put all their energy into every move and step they made. Being in the line closest to the audience, I was able to see some of them smiling back to me when I made a big, quick move and smiled at them. A few elder women fanned me with their uchiwa fans trying to help me fight the heat, saying “Keep it up! Great job!” Of course I will! This is my very last dance this year!!

And there came the unforgettable moment.

Dancers #15

I wasn’t thinking about moves or steps any longer; my body was just dancing to the music. In my sight, there were just the leading truck and the team mates in the bright light. There was no thinking about the past or the future…just the present. There was no fear, no embarrassment, no hesitation… there was just me, dancing to the music. That was all. My legs and arms were almost falling apart, but still I wanted to show more and more passion before I get to the goal--- before the whole thing came to an end.

The team mates who already reached the goal gathered around the truck, singing and shouting with the members who were still dancing. It fueled the passion of the dancers whose bodies were already pretty much worn out. You really should have seen their faces. That was something you don't see often in your everyday-life. That was something they all had deep inside, but only a crazy moment like that could bring out of them.

And I knew that my face, too, looked just like theirs.

Photos by Mr. K. Kawasaki.
*Photos are not quite related to the story.

It’s been a few days since the end of the festival. Now team members are exchanging emails and photos with countless “thank-yous.”

My team mates and me with a distinctive smile (Photo by Donchan)

One of the team mates, Donchan, emailed me this photo today and said it was OK to post it to my blog. :D Yes, she sent me a normal photo, and I hid my face using a photo retouch software to stay mysterious to the readers. Hahaha...

I’m sure most of us dance nuts will come back again next summer, because we got addicted to that extraordinary moment.
And we are crazy enough to indulge in the addiction ;)
posted by obachan, 8/16/2005 10:33:00 AM


Oh, I wish I could visit "Hyper Convenience Mart" -- sounds great and extremely convenient!

By the way, I'm in the South! Hope you come see my Southern food pictures. 

Posted by Jonny
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/18/2005 8:29 AM  
Great description of everything, your emotions, the environment and the energy, or lack thereof, I felt as if I were there!

Don't feel guilty of recieving recognition. I know you feel that way because you are a humble person but you were deserving that's why they gave it to you.

BTW Obachan...Salonpas is my obachan's favorite!!:p 

Posted by kyle
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/18/2005 8:56 AM  
Congratulations....what an experience...It was wonderful reading about the day and the range of emotions.....until next year!!!!! 

Posted by carlyn
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/18/2005 7:20 PM  
> Jonny --- I bet it is, though I’ve never been inside.

> kyle --- Thank you. I felt guilty not so much from humbleness. I felt I took that medal away from someone who came to dance here all the way from a distant prefecture.

> carlyn --- Yeah, we are all looking forward to next year.  

Posted by obachan
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/19/2005 10:09 AM  
Thanks for your wonderful retelling of your experiences! I loved reading all about it, sounds so wonderful! And congratulations on your medal, that's very exciting! 

Posted by Amanda
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/22/2005 3:28 PM  
Thanks Amanda. I thought maybe the whole story is boring for someone who has never actually seen this festival, but I just needed to write about it for myself. 

Posted by obachan
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/22/2005 3:31 PM  
Wow. Congratulations! And wonderfully written. Thanks so much for sharing.

ps. I was so excited I would finally see your photo and then =( But I am just as bad. I like being anonymous! 

Posted by Augustusgloop
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/23/2005 10:53 AM  
Hi Obachan, I love your account of the dancing, I have just arrived back in the UK after spending a wonderful holiday in Kochi with my Japanese wife. I had the pleasure in taking part in the festival in an amateur dance troupe made up of mainly japanese tourists, I think I was the only english man in the group, the dance was very simple but I had a wonderful experience. my legs ached terribly the next day but it was woth every minute of suffering. I am 38 and not as fit as I would like to be:) I hope to one day join in with a more complicated dance troupe, performing at yosakai was an honour. gambatte 

Posted by Ian
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/23/2005 9:32 PM  
Hehehe... Sorry! ;)

Hi! I might have seen you then. Or maybe you were on TV, because they like it so much when non-Japanese people take part in the festival. Anyway I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed participating in Yosakoi. Do try it with a more complicated dance troupe next time! Gambatte to you, too.

Posted by obachan
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/23/2005 11:56 PM  
'not fair Obachan. Why did you cover your face? 

Posted by ting
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/25/2005 12:42 PM  
Oh ting, sorry.... to tell you the secret, I'm wanted. Shhhhhhhh! Don't tell anyone. 

Posted by obachan
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/26/2005 10:49 AM  

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