The final day of Hiroshima’s annual Flower Festival is all about Yosakoi. Whether you are interested in Japanese dance or not, you will enjoy watching the parade along Peace Boulevard. Around 50 groups of dancers ranging in age from 2 to 82 take part in the contest. The kinsai yosakoi parade was introduced into the Flower Festival in 2002, and has established itself as one o the event’s highlights. The teams, which incorporate energetic, traditional Japanese dance moves with with modern dance music, pumped out of sound cars, show a real “joy” of dance. The energy and the smiles of the dancers are infectious and it is impossible not to be impressed.
Yosakoi dance dominates the final day of the festival with all the groups performing on the main Carnation Stage from when things kick off at 12pm, right through to around 7pm. Rather than sitting in front of the main stage, however, I prefer to take in the dance parade along Peace Boulevard. For just over two hours starting at 12:15pm, groups make there way along the long boulevard performing their routine several times along the way. It is advisable to get there a little early to secure a piece of curb to sit on (11:30 is early enough) Choose an area to sit near one of the intersections to get the better views. Take a small cooler of drinks and snacks with you as spectating this parade is usually pretty hot. If you have kids with you, find a spot not far from some food, drink or game stalls they can pop over to every now and then if (when) they get tired of watching.
While wherever you choose to position yourself on Peace Boulevard you’ll only see half the groups perform (as each is assigned to one of two zones labeled “A” and “B”) you will see a good variety of troupes. There are a range of groups performing from the more casually prepared groups clearly enjoying a day performing to the more professional, focused groups aiming for a prize- these are perfectly synchronized, displaying the many hours of practice that have lead up to the event. These groups also impressive with more elaborate costumes and make up. Most of the groups taking part are from from schools, community groups and dance clubs in the Hiroshima area. But there are always a few that have travelled quite a distance to perform at the Flower Festival and these often get a particularly warm reception. If you are interested in joining a local Yosakoi dance group, the Hiroshima city and Higashi-Hiroshima YMCA‘s sports clubs always have teams each year. Although they end up doing a fair amount of practice started a couple of weeks prior and there is a charge to help cover the costs, the group always looks like they are having lots of fun! (recruitment posters with all the details usually go up at the beginning of April each year in the YMCA).