Chokera-maika Costume Obon Dance Festival

I seriously think J-hoppers Takayama should send a team to join in the fun next year, perhaps dragging along some of the more adventurous guests as well, and with me being the choreographer coming up with strange and funny dance moves. Chokera-maika, in Hida (Takayama) dialect, means “let’s fool around”. Each team designs their own costumes and dance moves against the Chokera-maika theme song in the background, bringing their creativity and imagination to full play. This year we had a team transforming themselves into such familiar characters as Son Goku and Cell in Dragon Ball, who showed off signature moves including “Kame Kame Ha” and “Genki Dama”. Another team displayed a more local bent, being clad in cow costumes to promote Hida beef. There were even children participating, and one group, in particular, stood out, holding the spectators spellbound with crazy spinning on unicycles. I like it that all the costumes appear to have utilized recycled materials such as cardboard boxes and newspaper, thereby testing participating teams’ ability in turning the mundane to wonders. Ladies from a newspaper office, quite appropriately, used the material most readily available to them – newspaper – to create paper dresses. I was also impressed by the community spirit displayed in this event, with the locals gathering together either as participants or as spectators supporting their friends or relatives or purely having a fun night out. Everyone seemed to be having so much fun. That students are allowed to spend considerable time practicing something that does nothing to beef up their resume or to improve their grades is simply amazing. Let’s Chokera-maika together next year!


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