Japan City Guides: Daidogei Shizuoka
Daidogei - Street Performance World Cup
What is Daidogei?
Daidogei is Japanese for "street performance," and the World Cup is four days of street performances from all around the world.
The performers are selected by the Daidogei planning committee every year, and many hopefuls do not make the cut. Being selected for Daidogei is very competitive. Performances take place all over downtown Shizuoka, at intersections and on streets and sidewalks. The main stage is located in Sumpu Park.
This annual event began in 1992. It took three years to plan the first event, and the spectator turn-out of 1.5 million exceeded the planning committee's expectations. Daidogei keeps on growing every year. People travel from all over Japan to visit Shizuoka at this time, and Shizuoka students are given assignments to talk to performers, get autographs, or just find out what countries they are from.
Performances include jugglers, acrobats, dancers, magicians, creative musicians, comics and other off-the-wall shows. There are usually people on stilts, marching around in unique costumes and performing more daring feats. Some performers are competing, and some are there for exposure, while others are invited special guests.
A brochure is produced announcing the performances, stages, dates and times. It is possible to get a brochure ahead of time to plan your Daidogei viewing. Fair warning, these performances get crowded, so if you are planning to go to the main stage get there early - really early. These seasoned Daidogei viewers don't mess around when it comes to staking out their spots for the best views.
Sumpu Park and streets of Shizuoka are also full of food and drink stalls. Restaurants go out of their way to accommodate spectators and performers, have specials, and open windows for some stage views. Souvenirs are on sale all over Sumpu Park, as well.
When is Daidogei held?
This year, 2007, the event will be held November 1, 2, 3, and 4. It is always held in early November. Please call the Daidogei World Cup Executive Committee of the Event Planning Bureau, City of Shizuoka at 054 205 9840 to get the dates for future years.
The Daidogei World Cup is one of Shizuoka city's efforts to promote internationalization - introducing culture and art to the people of Shizuoka and sharing Shizuoka culture with people from all over the world.
Daidogei makes for a great day trip as Shizuoka is centrally located for easy access from many of Japan's major cities and several smaller towns. If you decide to stay for more than one day, there are many accommodation options with varied price ranges.
As mentioned before, it is a good idea to get a brochure early and map-out your course. Get to each stage early for best viewing. Some people bring ladders and seats, so don't assume because you are tall, it will be easy to see. There are cardboard viewers on sale, and it is a good idea to get one, especially if you're not able to get to the stages early enough to sit in front on the ground. Wear clothes you won't mind sitting on the ground in. Also, be prepared to be crowded with people standing right up next to you. At the main stage, people just keep coming in, and spectators keep making room for them, so things get pretty cozy. Don't be bothered.
For more information
Shizuoka Prefecture Tourist Association
Mizunomori Bldg. 2F, 14-1 Minami-machi, Shizuoka, 422-8067
Tel: 054 202 5595
Good rail links with Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (Shinkansen bullet train). From Tokyo JR Tokaido Shinkansen super-express (1 hour by "Hikari" express or 90 minutes by "Kodama") to Shizuoka. From Osaka (Shin-Osaka Station) 1 hour 40 minutes by Shinkansen bullet train and 1 hour 20 mins by "Kodama" from Nagoya and 1 hour by "Hikari" express.
Once you're at Shizuoka station, Go to the North Exit, go down the stairs, and walk through the tunnels up to Gofukucho. There are signs in English, and you can go up any staircase along the way.
Once you are above ground, walking on Gofukucho, you will start running into the crowds and performances. To get to Sumpu Park, keep walking north on Gofukucho. You will see Isetan department store at a large intersection. There will be a performance going on there. (In fact, there is a restaurant on the second floor of Isetan where you can look out the window and watch the performance.)
You want to turn right on the street in front of Isetan and follow the crowds to the next large intersection. The police station will be on your left, and the prefecture offices will be across the intersection within a moat.
Cross the street to the three buildings, walk toward them, and go between the center and left buildings. The park will be right in front of you decorated with Daidogei signs and full of festival stalls.
2 hours from both Tokyo and Nagoya by Tomei Expressway.