The “Shachihoko” is a mythical creature that has a head of a cat and a body of a fish. It is known for its control of lightning; as such gargoyles of it’s caricature are found on the roofs of Japanese Castles to ward off lightning. The dance depicts a stormy Japan Sea and the emergence of the “shachihoko” rising and taking control of the waves.
This dance depicts the life of the fisherman and different aspects of the sea. It will have movements such as the casting and pulling of fish nets, using small baskets to scoop and toss the fish from boat to boat, and the waves of the sea. “Soran-Bushi” comes from the Northern island of Hokkaido. The lyrics are in a strong regional dialect and usually have humorous descriptions to keep you in a joyful spirit. In old times, the fisherman would often sing “Soran-Bushi” as a way to pass the time as they worked. Here is a breakdown of the variety of moves in the dance:
1. Mizu-age — (pulling the fish from the water)
2. Ami-hike — (casting and pulling of the fish nets)
3. Tsukute-nagete — (scooping of the fish in small baskets and tossing them from boat to boat)
4. Nami — (crashing of the tidal waves)
5. Sui-heisen — (sea horizon)
This is a fun dance that is performed at a variety of festivals in Japan.
“Net de Yosakoi”
As with any cultural dance, various moves will depict everyday life depending on the local region. They range from coal-mining to rice harvesting, and in the case of this dance, it involves fishing. Movements in this dance include casting and pulling of fish nets, scooping and tossing the fish from boat to boat, and the waves of the sea, just like the song “Soran-Bushi,” in which it is derived from.
“Samurai” has strong movements and tries to capture the Bushido spirit that is the staple of ancient samurai culture. This dance is combined with the fishing movements and has two parts, the fisherman in the middle between two waves. It’s a perfect example where Yosakoi continues to carry on traditional themes in a contemporary era.