Carnival returns to Japan

A dame lorraine  struts her goods during Kochi Yosakoi Festival in Japan. - Overtime Media
A dame lorraine struts her goods during Kochi Yosakoi Festival in Japan. - Overtime Media

Not only is Carnaval happening in Japan again this year, but the organisers of the Kochi Yosakoi Festival are also innovating and preparing to introduce remotely-operated robots for the first time.

With this feature organisers are aiming to make it possible for people from anywhere in the world and/or those who are physically challenged to participate in the festival live, and experience the excitement virtually together with the rest of the band, a media release said.

Organiser, Tomoko "Selector Hemo" Inoue said, "When I visited Trinidad and Tobago and experienced its carnival for the first time in 2001 I found the similarities in styles with Japan’s famous Yosakoi Festival (which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year). I soon came up with an idea to produce a Yosakoi Band that combines both cultures of traditional Yosakoi Dance and Trinidad Carnival, which lead me to establish Canaval in 2008.

"The band invited Machel Montano in 2017, which drew huge attention locally and internationally, but then through three tough years of dealing with the covid situation and not being able to travel abroad – and even missing Trinidad Carnival for the first time in 20 years, I decided to propose a new style and a new world for the continuous existence of the festivals/carnivals," Inoue said in an interview with Overtime Media.

Pan is feature at Carnaval which takes place during the Kochi Yosakoi Festival in Japan in August. - Overtime Media

"I am proud to introduce remotely-operated robots, which makes it possible for people from anywhere in the world or those physically challenged to participate in the festival live, and experience the whole excitement together."

In preparation for the Kochi Yosakoi Festival in August the Remote Yosakoi Robot Executive Committee, in collaboration with AGAMI Corporation, has launched an appearance design contest for robot avatars, Overtime Media said.

With the combining of technology and tradition, the committee plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Kochi Yosakoi Festival by bringing robot avatars to the festival. Called the Agamon series, the remotely operable robotic avatars will be unveiled in collaboration with the dance group Canavalava, which combines Carnival culture and Yosakoi tradition.

Masqueraders dance during the Kochi Yosakoi Festival in Japan.. - Overtime Media

The AGAMI Corporation is a Tokyo-based robotics systems development company, that is spearheading the development of remotely-operated robot systems. This technology allows a remotely-operated robot avatar to become a channel for expressing dance movements through an intuitive touch interface. With this system, even individuals, who are facing physical challenges to move their body, may be able to actively engage in the Yosakoi festival and share in the rhythms and movements with fellow dancers and the audience.

The design contest closes on of June 30 and anyone can enter. The registered user will be able to view all the submissions and can give "like" marks. The top three most-liked images will be the winners, and will be rewarded.

"This contest will give an opportunity to everyone around the world to contribute to the appearances of the historic first series of Agamon avatars participating in the 70th Yosakoi festival," Inoue said. The event takes place August 10-11

Additionally, to cover some of the fabrication and execution costs, the AGAMI Inc has launched a crowdfunding campaign.

Aiming to make this year's installment bigger and better than ever, the Canavalava team is still recruiting dancers for the event and welcomes anyone interested to join the team and experience the historic effort taking place in August.

Given their love for TT's national instrument, the Canaval band also has a pan section which includes players either positioned on the truck or parading in the streets with neck-secured pans. The band is offering tour packages for those who’d like to experience this year’s Yosakoi festival, alongside the beauty and magic of Kochi's natural wonders. Kochi boasts of green mountains, crystal rivers and wide ocean views and experiences, the release said.

"You can also enjoy delicious food in Kochi. Fresh local vegetables are always available, and great sea food includes popular katsuo (bonito) that satisfies almost everyone who visits Kochi. The people of Kochi are friendly and cheerful, and, as you can guess from the power of Yosakoi Festival, they are very energetic. They love to drink, and Okyaku is one of their important traditions where people all gather to drink for any occasion from weddings to funerals – literally anything nowadays, as long as everyone can have fun and feel like one big Kochi family in the end," Inoue said.

Carnaval street parade during Kochi Yosakoi Festival in Japan. The festival returns this year from August 10-11 - Overtime Media

Kochi’s summer is a big festival season with the Yosakoi Festival which started in 1954 and is now the biggest parade-style festival in Japan where people dance passionately at 15 different dancing spots. Some 20,000 masqueraders with Naruko clappers in their hands (an essential tradition style) parade around the city, performing with full energy, cheer and colours. Participants are free to choose a team (band) to join, usually determined by preferences in teams' costumes, music, colours and original choreography. Each team comes up with its own original styles and this is what makes Yosakoi Festival so unique and appealing, the release said.

More info: Visit the Remote Yosakoi Robot Executive Committees website


"Carnival returns to Japan"

More in this section