June 03, 2012

Osaka Street Dance Summer Festival

Today we went to Osaka Castle park, with the intention of enjoying a nice, leisurely walk around the grounds followed by a glimpse of the majestic castle. Instead, we somehow ended up at the Street Dance Summer Festival, watching adolescent Japanese girls in various shades of fluoro dancing maniacally to hip hop music. Japan is full of surprises.
It was held in the Osaka Castle park outdoor band shell, and we literally just stumbled into it all, after hearing loud blaring music and smelling delicious festival food smells. It was a bit like a scene out of Toddlers and Tiaras... lots of little girls in bright pink costumes and crazy makeup trailing mothers with high heels and designer handbags. Then there were older girls in animal print with fake tattoos. And also a few muscly guys with sunglasses and real tattoos. Naturally, being patrons of the arts, we paid the 500 yen entry fee, and headed into the hip hop wonderland.
It was a stinking hot day, so we were given these funky Street Dance Summer Festival fans with our tickets. This is us sitting in the bleachers and looking gangsta (note how no one wanted to sit near us). We were the only foreigners there, apart from a middle-aged couple who wandered in with cameras around their necks looking very confused. They did not stay long.
The Festival went from 1pm to 7pm, although we only stayed for a couple of hours. Each dance group would perform a routine onstage, and every hour there was a break where the MC would talk to the crowd, or there would be a dance demonstration, where the audience could join in and learn a hip hop dance routine, like in the picture above. Or you could be like me, and use the break to go and get some takoyaki from the stalls outside.
The dance groups ranged in age and ability, from tiny wee beginners to older, more advanced dancers. The costumes, hair and makeup were pretty wild, and we guessed they were straight out of Amerika-mura, the centre for Osaka's hip hop culture. We were correct - the program for the Festival was full of advertisements for shops in Amerika-mura.
It was a brilliant afternoon, the dancers were so great and into it, and it was highly entertaining. Also entertaining was the fact that most of the dance teachers had neglected to recognise and bleep out the swear words out of the English hip hop songs... the result being that little 10 year olds were dancing in blissful ignorance to lyrics such as 'die mother f***er die mother f***er die'' and 'don't hide that pussy, divide that pussy'. I guess some things are best kept lost in translation.


  1. HAHA!!!!! Hilarious!!! Oh, Japan.

    I love your blog SO much!!! You're a brilliant writer and you do justice to Osaka, like I never did.... keep it up!!!!!!

  2. I almost peed laughing at them dancing to cuss words.

  3. These kind of festivals just help you to keep a busy person!

    Street Dance