Not your average parade, we guarantee that!
Since 2013, the 2nd Saturday of March has seen the streets of Padang Kota Lama filled with hundreds of people for the Penang Yosakoi Parade. Just the mention of “parade” may trigger thoughts of an orderly and organised march with a familiar theme. But this Japanese-inspired parade is a league apart from the rest!
Here’s everything you need to know:
Creativity and Culture Coexist as Core Values
Veering away from standard procession, creativity takes precedence here which keeps the crowd coming back every year. As Japan hosts the Tokyo Olympics this year, there will be an Olympic-themed opening ceremony with five sporting shows.
The dance performances are the anchor of the event. Each group not only come up with ingenious choreographies but also reflect various cultures and traditions through their costumes. During the parade, energetic dancers and cosplayers weave their way through the streets, replete with eye-catching colours and characters, which are a feast for the eyes and camera.
A Night Run Like Never Before
Huffing and puffing is sure to be swapped with lots of laughs at the Fun Run. Participants are encouraged to come dressed in creative outfits in a night run which would also emphasise the importance for the environment. Put on a showy costume and good luck explaining that you’re going for a run!
Open to All Walks of Life
Whether you’re a parent with kids, tourists swinging by to explore, senior citizens who are young at heart, or even if you’re disabled with a heck of talents, everyone is welcomed to take part. Feel free to join in not just the parade, but just about anything that spells fun and happiness such as street dancing, water-throwing mikoshi, art-centric events and more. However, the main appeal is the 6 different Japanese folk dances, 4 of which will be performed on the Yagura Tower Stage. So if you love to dance, you’re in for a field day.
A Wealth of Activities Waiting to Impress
You may be sold by the night run already but more revelry awaits. At the carnival, the years before saw activities like mochituki (Japanese rice cake making), singing competitions, rock climbing, ghost houses, mazes, Japanese martial arts, Japanese Chess and even Japanese maths. The funfair follows suit as well with traditional games like Kingyo Sukui (goldfish catching), superball scooping and Yoyo fishing. This time, do come over with bigger expectations.
One engaging hands-on activity has been revealed, which is create your own Toronagashi lanterns and calligraphy with the assistance of Japanese and Chinese Calligraphy teachers. If this is your jam, don’t forget to check out the Craft Bazaar which will be loaded with arts and crafts from talented artisans.
Just share with your kids the things to do and see, and be prepared for endless incantations of “How long more for the parade?”
Assorted Food to Try Out
Food means serious business as well, with a wide selection of Japanese and international fare to pamper the palates of all ages. Enjoy your meal on Esplanade field as it would be an Open Picnic concept so that you won’t miss any stage performances and make new friends.
An Emotional Backstory
You may assume that this parade was initiated with pure fun in mind, yet its storied past is a tale of emotions. On 11th of March 2011, the Tohoku Earthquake hit the North-East coast of Japan, and it claimed the lives of over 24,000 and displaced approximately a quarter of a million people. In 10 days of the disaster, the Pink Hibiscus Club in Penang organised a fundraising event and collected over RM1.6 million to support the surviving citizens in Japan.
Overwhelmed by the kindness and humanity of the tens of thousands who donated, the club began an event with traces of Japan. It was named as Penang Yosakoi Parade and became an instant hit since Penang has always embraced a crossroad of cultures.
If a trip to Japan isn’t near future, Padang Kota Lama on the 7th of March 2020 is the place to be. Find more details on the event’s Facebook page here.
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