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Captivated by Japan's ‘Daidougei’ – Street Performance Art

Daidougei” is a type of street performance in Japan. “Daido” means big street and “Gei” means performance. Ironically, because of restrictions under Japan's Road Traffic Law [ja] and regulations by local authorities, it is not free to perform on the street. Special permission is needed to perform Daidougei.

Various ideas were introduced to support street performers recently; the Tokyo Metropolitan Government created a program [ja] to give performers a license to perform on the street approved by the government. In Kanagawa prefecture, volunteers organize “Noge-Daidougei Festival” twice a year to revitalize the area by using street performance [ja]. However some people say that these methods are not enough.

When asked what was the hardest thing that he had experienced, a performer Thankyou Tezuka answered It’s that we are not allowed to perform on the street freely under the Road Traffic Law, regulation and so on.” [ja]

A blogger Taiki [ja] writes about legal restrictions on street performance:

日本には素晴らしいパフォーマーが多くいますが、彼らの活躍する「場」や「風土」、「文化」が日本にはまだ定着していません。
彼らはそういった場を求め、海外へ出ていってしまいます。更に言ってしまえば、海外に出ていけるパフォーマーはまだいい方で、自分の生活や金銭的な問題から才能を発揮できずに終わってしまうパフォーマーがほとんどでしょう。

Although there are many great performers in Japan, the environment for street performance; the“place”, the “climate” and the “culture” are not firmly established. They often go abroad in search of such an environment. Performers who can go abroad are better off. Others might be forced to retire without doing justice to their ability because of financial difficulities.

One amateur photographer, charmed by the art of Daidogei street performance, has spent years taking photos of it. His name is Akira. His blog is titled “All I take is Daidogei photos, I myself don’t know why I am so obsessed.”[ja]

He described it was his encounter with a performer “Gilyak Amagasaki” [ja] that made him start taking photos of “Daigougei“.

ギリヤーク尼ヶ崎さんは、舞踏によって人間の情念や力、悲しみを表現する大道芸人。
雪の降る街中で踊る彼との出会いがきっかけで、ボクは様々な大道芸人を撮るようになりました。昔はともに日本中を旅しています。阪神大震災直後の被災地にも行きました。
その生き様と考え方。ボクにとって心の師匠です。

Gilyak Amagasaki” is a performer who expresses pathos, energy and sorrow through dance. I saw him dancing in a snowy street and from there, started taking photos of various performers. I used to travel with them and also went to the disaster area right after the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995. His way of living and thinking really inspire me. He’s my master.

Here are his photos that show his empathy for performers. (Photos used with permission from Akira.)

“Gilyak Amagasaki” in “The Osaka performance” at Namba, Amerikamura

“GchocoMarble” at “Come on! Daidougei for everyone at Ikebukuro”

“Meriko” at festival of Sugiyama Shrine in Kawasaki

“Daichi” at “Street Corner Art in Ochanomizu art picnic”

“HANAMERI” at “Toyohashi Art Festival”

 

“Thankyou Tezuka” in “Daidougei Festival in Chiba 2012″

“Taiheiyou” at “Daidougei Festival in Asakusa rokku”

You can find more photos in Akira's Facebook photo album.[ja] He gave this explanation [ja] for making the album:

I hope my photos make people want to go out and see Daigougei. I would be happy if I can give them such a chance.

Did his hope reach you?

Proof reading:Keiko Tanaka

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