【写真】オシンディ さんABEイニシアティブ 研修員/ケニア出身 
オシンディ さん



【画像】 Yosakoi is the most famous summer festival celebrated in Kochi Prefecture, Japan. The festival is really, well decorated, engaging, entertaining, and mind blowing. Although it runs for about four (4) days, I think for tourists, especially those interested in learning and participating in this culture, it might seem too short for you. I am saying this out of my experience, because I had a chance to participate in the “62nd Yosakoi Festival!” Let us go through it together.


 The real task comes during the practice time, when some groups start a couple of months before the event, while others a few months to. My group practiced for about one and half (1.5) months; every day except for days off. That was one of the most challenging and engaging moments in life, because of various reasons. The obvious reason is my background; I was born and bred in Africa, a continent known for vigor and energy in music performances; uniquely, movement of virtually all the body parts at ago! Then, here comes Yosakoi, where I need to be a bit calm, and accurately coordinate all the body parts, in a specific position, hold the Naruko in the required way and alignment. Make sure the Naruko shakes at the required time; poor you if you are out of order. Actually, Naruko was an extra burden because I am used to dancing without any instrument on my hand.

Language was definitely another issuer; talk of the song, instructions and interactions- all in Japanese! Although my Japanese was not that bad, I had to depend on my Japanese partners in front and beside me during instruction time. It was funny though, because sometimes it could backfire, when all of them were doing something different; who the hell is doing the right thing? Fortunate enough, the continuous practice did me good, and for sure, I did make it…yaay!

The performances are held in different parts of the city (Kochi), thus necessity for early preparations. At this time of year you will see an erection of temporary structures along streets, open spaces, and even halls. Even some major roads and streets are barricaded for Yosakoi purposes; it is party time! All these places are equipped with all safety measures, lighting systems, observation points and decorations that paint the face of a true Yosakoi mood.


【画像】  Mind you, it is summer. You can imagine the sweating rates and fatigue; you got to be strong on this. Actually one of my friends referred to this as literally “swimming in your clothes!” The sweating and fatigue notwithstanding, the audience is always awesome cheering you to the end. They are always lined on both sides of the streets, maybe sited or standing, leaving the performances to astound them. There is no good feeling as to when you realize that someone is enjoying what you are doing; that keeps you moving and pushing on to the end. Some of the audiences even try to “fan you” (if there is such a phrase) just to cool you down. きもちがいいね (it is such a nice feeling).


【画像】 There are various prizes won during the Yosakoi festival, but I would like to emphasize on MEDALS! There are judge benches in all the performance, areas. The work of the judges is to identify best dancers, to whom the medals are given. One can collect as many medals as possible; the better your moves are, so are your chances to collect medals. It is actually a bad feeling if one fails to collect a medal in all the 3-4 days of performance! I won two medals. One of the medals that I won is called flower medal, and it is said to be the best of all medals in Yosakoi! Glad this happened to me…


【画像】 My case was even unique, because I was the only African (not really sure) and maybe the first ever Kenyan to dance Yosakoi…yaay! So, most of the time faces could be turning at me- not only the audience but including the media…but do I say! “Sugoi” “Sugoi” were vocabularies of the day. Actually, I promised the media people that I want to teach Yosakoi moves back in Kenya; of course Kenyans need to know about Naruko and the “Monk in Love!”
Indeed, the participation in Yosakoi was a great happening to me. I may not participate in the subsequent ones but I will be always be heads high, spirit burning, and proudly saying “よさこいで踊りきった” (I made it in Yosakoi)!

*ABEイニシアティブとは、「アフリカの若者のための産業人材育成イニシアティブ(African Business Education Initiative for the Youth)」の略で、5年間で1000人のアフリカの若者に対し、日本の大学や大学院での教育に加え、日本企業でのインターンシップの機会を提供する研修プログラムで、アフリカの民間セクターや公的部門における人材育成、アフリカ各国が日本の優れた技術や日本企業への認識の深化、またそのために我が国を訪れるアフリカ人の増加に応えようとする支援策の1つです。