The Harajuku Omotesando genki matsuri Super Yosakoi is an annual festival in Tokyo. The festival lasts 2 days and takes place during the last weekend in the month of August. The festival itself is quite impressive and sees over 100 teams perform on stages set up in Tokyo’s famous Yoyogi park. Hidden among the massive trees, the teams, sometimes representing universities, perform dance choreographies accompanied by energetic music and usually an emcee or singer. The performances are thunderous, loud and totally awesome! Each team is compromised of anywhere between 30 and 60 odd performers who don extremely colourful and wonderfully confectioned costumes and proceed to blow your mind for about 5 to 10 minutes. Incredible!
It was very difficult for me to get good shots standing behind a hoard of umbrella brandishing onlookers. So all the shots of the stage were shot ”blindly” with a 100mm lens. By blind shooting, I refer to holding the camera up as high as I can, testing settings and camera angles in the hopes of capturing good shots. With this type of focal length, each degree of hand/camera inclination has an enormous impact on your end result and composition. It’s an exercise in visualisation and optical detachment: imagining that you are seeing through the camera even though your eye is not looking through the viewfinder. Just like a periscope. But without a periscope. Tough!
The diversity in terms of age representation is fantastic as well: children as young as 5 were waving flags alongside their elders. Between each set, a short 5 minute intermission padded the performances. And then it was on to the next group!
What really impressed me was the sheer number of costumes required to clothe an entire team; from my position, the amount of work that went into each group’s gear looked nothing short of staggering. The colors and the level of detail put into into each costume was a thing to be admired.
If you have a chance to be in Tokyo during the month of August, I highly recommend going to this festival. The truth is that there are so many things to do in Tokyo and one of the best ways to witness Japan is to attend a traditional event like this one. Personally, if I had to choose between this and some cliché tourist attraction in a guide book, there would be no hesitation: Super Yosakoi matsuri all the way!