If you’re unfamiliar with Japanese festivals, the name Premium Yosakoi might sound like a beer you’ve come across at your local combini, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Organized by the committee behind Kochi Prefecture’s famous Yosakoi Festival, Premium Yosakoi in Tokyo showcased the high energy yosakoi dance to the world, live on YouTube, in cooperation with the Tokyo 2020 Nippon Festival.

Premium Yosakoi

Yokohama Byakkotai performs the opening dance with the theme “Tokyo Olympics.”

The festival’s roots can be traced back to 1954, at the very first Yosakoi Festival. It was created with the intention of alleviating the stress of the post-war economic recession and lifting the spirits of Koichi citizens. Now, the Committee of the 2020 “Supporting with Yosakoi” Project is looking to have a similar effect amidst the covid-19 pandemic.

With its small humble beginnings at a shopping center, the Yosakoi Festival now attracts almost 20,000 dancers yearly. (Image courtesy of KOCHI OMATI RASHISA)

“This event was created in hope that it will bring a little cheer and a smile to many people, in spite of the coronavirus,” says Aoki Akihiro, Chairman of the Yosakoi Festival Promotion Association. “Anyone can participate in the festival regardless of race or gender, so I hope people around the world enjoy this event through the performances of teams from Japan and  overseas.”

Due to it’s simple two rules: dancers must use naruko (wooden clappers) and incorporate phrases from the yosakoi-bushi folk song into the music, the creative liberty for choreography has allowed the art of yosakoi to expand across 200 regions in Japan and 33 countries across the globe.

The group Tenkushinatoya Shin wear the colors gold and silver to represent the sun and the moon.

“The charm of yosakoi lies in its freedom in choreography and in it’s diversity, enabling anyone from any part of the world to participate and enjoy it,” says Hamada Seiji, Governor or Koichi. “It brings me great joy to see how yosakoi is now being introduced to the world as one of Japan’s most famous festivals.”

Featuring 25 teams from Japan and 6 from abroad, the colorful, heart-pumping performances can still be watched until July 22 for free. So don’t miss out on witnessing first-hand how a traditional dance can teach open-mindedness to all.