After we checked our baggage into the hotel we walked about five minutes to a large open park with a view of the city. We had intended to practice there for our upcoming performances, but since we hadn't been able to officially check into the hotel until afternoon, we weren't able to change into practice clothes. Instead, we spent the morning attending an open house at the University of Hokkaido, a lengthy walk away.
The first thing we did at the open house was try to find lunch. All the different international student groups had stands set up, and everyone wanted us to try theirs.
This is where I was introduced to Japanese "advertising." While American student groups might yell out that they had fresh or hommade food, these vendors would walk around in costumes, carry signs, dress in costumes and practically sing and dance to get people to buy their food. I was accosted by one girl who wanted me to buy her ice cream. She literally grabbed my arm and started jabbering in Japanese. When I said 'wakarimasen' (I don't understand), she switched to English. "You like sweet? Yes? You buy our ice cream!" I didn't want the ice cream, so I settled for taking a picture with her, then moving on.
I actually ended up getting chicken shwerma for lunch. I never thought I'd have my favourite Lebanese food in Japan.
This is an elderly woman doing a watercolor of one of the historic buildings on the university's campus. We actually saw quite a few elderly people doing this scattered throughout the campus.
Later in the evening we went to watch some of the bigger yosakoi teams perform on the big stage in Odori Park. This was what we had come for. It was so cool to be in an environment where everyone knew what Yosakoi is, and where competition for the top spot is as competetive as a major US sporting tournament.
I believe this is the team that eventually won second place overall. Teams are judged based on their energy level, costume and makeup, costume changes and use of accessories. There are also requirements for the music. This group did one of the more traditional performances.
This team didn't do a lot of traditional yosakoi moves which kept them from making it to the finals, but it was the most memorable performance I saw. The group were dressed as train conductors, and the music involved a lot of audial cues that were train whistles. The song had a lot of hip-hop influence, and the dancers were the most synchronised I have ever seen. It was unbelievable how together they were - almost robotic.This group was all girls, and did a flamenco-style routine.Another traditional-style group.This team had a lot of accessories, especially the flags in the back. The taiko drummers in the front were really cool, and there were even two tiny kids doing taiko drums. When the drumming part was over, a dancer picked up the littlest kid and ran off the stage with him to make room for a formation change. In a few days we would be dancing on the same stage.