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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old August 24th, 2003, 06:52 PM   #1
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Super Yosakoi

Just here to vent about not having my camera with me yesterday when I came across a street festival/parade called "Super Yosakoi" in Omote-sando yesterday. That jumped right into my list of the top five live events I've ever seen.

The closest comparison I can come up with is the "Spectacle Spectacular" scene from Moulin Rouge, but performed with a Japanese traditional theme, and as a parade, and repeated about 15 times by different groups. Really amazing to see.

At the head of each group was a huge sound truck with mega speakers. On top of the truck was one or more singers (in some cases just a "yeller" who barked out a sort of rythmic chant). There were complete mixes also playing to back them up and these were old Japanese traditional music themes that had been modernized to sound more like a Broadway score or a movie soundtrack. All of them were extremely powerful and energetic.

Behind the music trucks were the dancers. Each group had anywhere from 50 to a couple of hundred dancers. They were all dressed in wildly colorful costumes...some looking very traditional while others looked like something from Broadway. They danced in unison, with synchronized yelling and singing. The dance was a mixture of modern and traditional Japanese dance and included using props like colorful fans, drums, and castanet-like things.

And then behind each group of dancers was the group's flag waver(s). These were huge silk flags...maybe 10 feet by 15 feet or larger...and painted with beautiful traditional silk-screen patterns. The flag wavers were all beefy guys...often trading out with a team...since they had to wildly wave the flags around the whole time (about two hours...and I mean "wildly" waving them). One group had five of these going at the same time...amazing to see.

This whole thing repeated about 15 times or so then ended at a park where they all performed again on a stage.

You can't imagine how much energy and color and movement there was going on constantly...it really was spectacular. The crowds that lined the streets also looked amazing. It was a hot day and everyone had fans to cool themselves. So, as far as you could see the streets were lined with flickering fans.

And where was my camera? At home, of course.
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Old August 24th, 2003, 07:15 PM   #2
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Sounds amazing! Isn't that the usual luck though (the cam being somewhere else)?

Similar story, but the event wasn't as beautiful - I was driving home from work on Friday evening and there was a HUGE electrical storm in the distance, with very vivid lightning, but no rain. I was less than five minutes from my house and the lightning was flying repeatedly. I pulled into my carport, ran into the house, grabbed the cam, put in a tape/battery, hooked it up to a monopod, ran outside and recorded for ten minutes - only to see TWO flashes of lightning - and I missed them both!

I'm sure you all have much footage of lightning and can probably recreate it pretty easily in post, but I can't describe the amount that was being thrown around in the sky - before the camera made it outside.

That's the way it goes! Thanks for story, John. It sounded like a very beautiful event.
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Old August 24th, 2003, 11:55 PM   #3
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John,
that sounds like the festival they have down in Tokushima, on Shikoku island, the whole town performs dances in the street, I think it's every August, one day I gotta go check it out.

Awa Odori is the name. http://www.jinjapan.org/atlas/festivals/fes19.html

They wear those straw hats that look like a big tortilla folded and sitting on their head. There's another one coming up I think where they pull as fast as then can a huge 2 ton mini house like cart through the winding streets in south Osaka, they usually wreck several store fronts and someone always dies. Plus, they have a guy on the roof jumping around and dancing and several musicians inside the cart, or at least a bunch of people in and hanging onto the outside, when they wreck, everyone goes flying.

Japan has some cool festivals, I met a priest in Kyoto who wants me to film his temple's Taiko event next month. Lots of fire and taiko drums. I'll see the rehearsal event next week.

I think www.tokyodv.com has some festival footage on there, I've seen the Penis festival clips on there.

Here's the homepage of the Koichi Yosakoi festival:

http://www.yosakoi.com/
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Old August 25th, 2003, 12:08 AM   #4
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Thanks for the links, Rik! Also, thanks a lot for finally showing me the name "Awa Odori." I'd been trying to find information about them for awhile. I was really surprised the first time I saw that type of dance troupe...it just didn't fit the preconceptions I had about Japan. I thought all Japanese dance was serene and mellow... but Awa Odori and Yosakoi are pretty wild stuff. Really entertaining.

I found a link to the Yosakio event I went to with a photo gallery (click the link in the light blue box in the top left of the page). The pix are from last year...and it looks like this year's participants had better costumes than last year.
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Old August 25th, 2003, 04:26 AM   #5
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John,
Yeah, the same thing happened to me, I saw some video from the Awa Odori and it took me some time to find out which festival it was. I think I saw a CD for sale of the Awa Odori music, but I like that music a lot. One time at this nightclub that I used to shoot video for, they had a private party for a deaf group, they had a group of 30 Awa Odori dancers come into the club and they all danced like that, it was wild.

My wife is japanese and she doesn't really get into the festivals let alone the music, she always trips out when she comes home and I have on NHK listening and seeing some cool festival.

That would be a good project, the Festivals of Japan, there are 5 major festivals and a lot of smaller ones, I think there is one coming up where they have huge floats made out of paper and they are lit from inside and it happens at night. Travel agents would be interested but mainly people who are interested in Japan would get into a best of Japanese Festivals. I wonder if something like that exists.

3 are the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka, the Awa Odori in Tokushima, I forget which are the last two.

The only bad thing is they mostly take place in summer when its hot and very humid
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