For one day in busy downtown Saitama, Japan, passersby enjoyed an unexpected interruption to their daily routine, as children put on a public performance of high energy choreography.
Yosakoi Soran are dance festivals, which combine traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music, and they’re usually at athletic events or schools. But the Kiwanis Club of Saitama decided to stage its competition so the children’s performances could be observed by pedestrians.
“This was our first such event,” says Kiwanis club member Nozomu Otokozawa. “It was nice to watch the children doing their best with adults supporting them. Needless to say, the small children were really cute.”
Yosakoi Soran is a mixture of music from western Japan (Yosakoi of Kochi) and from the northern area (Soran of Hokkaido) and features the rhythm of Naruko clappers.
Kiwanis festival participants came from nursery schools, childcare institutions, primary schools and Yosakoi Soran teams. Because they represented various age groups, the Kiwanians did not judge the competition, but presented awards to everyone. But these were not first- or second-place honors; rather, the Kiwanians recognized entrants in categories such as: Vibrancy Award, Hardworking Award, Excitement Award, Resilient Award, Moving Award, Dazzling Award and Teamwork Award. In addition, sponsors provided snacks, flashlights, stationeries and towels as prizes. — Jack Brockley
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