George, Timothy, S.
Japan; Yosakoi; rural revitalization; festivals; culture
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Japan has been experiencing a population decline in rural areas since post World War II. Rural prefectures including Kōchi have been participating in nationwide efforts as well as local efforts to maintain population and hopefully attract more people to these areas. These efforts have been collectively categorized under the term rural revitalization. Rural revitalization has many aims: to encourage pride in local cultural practices, to attract tourists and new residents, and to boost local economies. In this study I examined how a festival might assist in rural revitalization efforts. Exploring the literature involving revitalization efforts provided the scaffolding for my project. Fieldwork was personally conducted over six weeks in Kōchi City, the capital of Kōchi prefecture. I participated in the local Yosakoi festival, on a dance team with 116 people, all from Kōchi University. The answers I found on this journey were surprising. The complexity of this subject was daunting at times, and I learned more about Japanese culture than I anticipated. I compiled my findings into a formal research paper and applied what I had learned to create a board game to introduce the issues to a general audience.