A simple and inclusive event that was born out of a humble idea, took the whole city by storm, and became an annual contest eagerly anticipated by both its cheerful participants and their anxious spectators. The crowds completely taking the streets and avenues of central Nagoya are a thrilling and exhilarating vision.
Nippon Domannaka Festival, known as Domatsuri, is one of the largest dance festivals in Japan and unfolds annually in mid-summer Nagoya, at the very center of Japan, in late August. This festival started in 1999 when a group of students started to mimic the “Naruko Dance,” a modern variation of a traditional dancing style, characterized by the use of noisy wooden clappers once used to scare birds from the rice fields. Now, it has become a large-scale event welcoming about 1.8 million visitors during the 4 days of the festival.
“Zero Audience = All Participants” is the unique concept of this festival, meaning that everybody, participant or spectator, is welcome to join in the dancing. Groups of dancers, some with hundreds of members, take turns on the stage, following some few and simple rules, one of them requiring that all dancers hold “narukos” in their hands. The rest is pure fun and amazement, until the climax of the festival, called “So-Odori,” in which both participants and spectators dance joyfully together. In the 2010 edition, the “So-Odori” participation was so massive, it was registered in the Guinness World Records for most people dancing with “narukos” simultaneously, at the exact number of 9,481 dancers.