Comic characters come alive at the Esplanade that assumed the look of a mini Japanese carnival with flagpoles and a stage.
Fast gaining popularity, the Yosakoi Parade is in its 4th year running organised by the Pink Hibiscus Club in Penang on March 11.
This exciting event is a prelude to a similar and much larger Comic Fiesta to be held in Kuala Lumpur in December.
Several booths selling street food, kimonos, and handicrafts crowded with visitors many dressed in kimonos. Stage performances lined up included Japanese-pop singing contest, Cosplay costume showcase and a choir team made up of Japanese mothers. A charity food drive raised funds for the Children’s Protection Society.
Japanese melodies filled the air and many youths paraded in costumes resembling their favourite anime or manga characters. Iconic cosplay characters such as Deadpool, Kuran Yuki and Hiccup were the targets of camera-toting visitors.
The highlights were Kendo demonstration, Mikoshi, street dancing, jumping balls, ghost maze, Kingyo Sukui, parade rides, splash mob and others. It was a day of fun and water splashing.
As Yosakoi is traditionally celebrated with indigenous dances, a Yosakoi dance parade with participants from school teams and associations marched past along a route from the Town Hall on Light Street to the Victoria Clock Tower.
The Yosakoi parade was inspired to raise funds for victims of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. Organised by the Pink Hibiscus Club, RM1.6million were raised within just 10 days and handed over to the Japanese Consulate.
“Overwhelmed by the generosity and solidarity for the earthquake victims expressed by Penangites, we want to repay such kindness by giving Penang a platform to showcase their creativity and talent by introducing this Japanese traditional festival,” said Emi Yamazaki, chairperson of the Pink Hibiscus Club.
“Since many people look to Japan for sources of inspiration, we encourage youths to participate in Yosakoi because they are able to cultivate their innovation skills by designing costumes, choreography, and ideas to make themselves stand out,” she said.
A participating team that took part in the parade came from SMK (P) Temenggong Ibrahim Batu Pahat Johor’s the Japanese Language Society. The team was led by high school teacher Azmi Asura who is proud of his students for perfecting the dance in only three months.
With two years of experience in cosplay, Lee Chai Nee dressed herself in her costume and accessories, hand-made that took three months, on – that depicted the character of Kuran Yuki from a show called Vampire Night.
“I believe everyone has their own hero at heart. For me, I admire the characteristics portrayed by Kuran Yuki in the show, which is why I choose to dress up like her today,” she said.
German tourists Cabdow Rosika and Cabdow Yonis, both staying in Penang under the My Second Home Program, were astounded by the performances. They got to know this event from buntings and were glad to have attended becase it was something new to them.
“We will definitely be here again next year,” they said.
Cosplay, short for costume play, refers specifically to cosplayers who dress up in anime or manga gears and this hobby originates from the Southern island of Shikoku.