Making the people happy. Making the city come alive.

Dozens of high-quality participating artists, hundreds of thousands of spectators, countless tossed coins, and a unique, volunteer-based operation.
Daidogei World Cup in Shizuoka is Asia’s most talked-about performing arts festival.

Since it began in 1992, Daidogei World Cup has been held every year in Shizuoka for four days around early November. Each successive Daidogei has grown in quality and scale, making it one of Asia’s hallmark festivals. More than 90 artist groups participate, watched by over 1.5 million attendees. Those who are invited from throughout Japan to perform in the festival, on this sacred ground for street theatre, become the envy of their peers. In recent years, Daidogei has also drawn the attention of festival directors overseas, a number of whom come over every time it is held. The “Daidogei” of the festival’s name means “street theatre” in Japanese.

 The “impact outcome” to which we have aspired for over 25 years remains unchanged.

We began this festival with the five goals below in mind. When Daidogei was first planned in the late 1980s, a shadow could be seen on Japan’s bubble economy; it was an era when society as a whole began to search for the direction it would take next. We discussed the options for cities in the 21st century, and positioned one of them as the realization of “spiritual richness” as opposed to emphasis on the economy. Another option was not relying on local governments to revitalize Japan’s urban areas, as was common in the past, but to emphasize the importance of citizen-led urban management.
As a result, we set out to create places and opportunities for anyone and everyone to experience first-hand the wonders of art and culture, utilizing preexisting resources rather than constructing new facilities. “The streets are a theater. When they are filled with the energy of art and culture, the people and the city will be wonderfully transformed.” This has been our theme since the beginning, which we carry forth into the future.

  1. To deepen understanding of the necessity of art and culture in our daily lives

    We believe that art and culture have a truly vast number of strengths: they enrich peoples’ lives, improve our sensitivity, help us recognize diversity and serve as a tool for communication. The laughter and excitement brings joy to our hearts, leading us to discover new things about ourselves. In the end, we want as many people as possible to enjoy the broad range of art and culture. However, art and culture have been written off as esoteric, and many people stay away from theaters and other such places. We want them to get closer to art and culture, and to comfortably experience how wonderful they are. This idea was the impetus for a festival centered on street theatre, which can be seen by anyone simply passing by. Daidogei has grown with each passing year, as people have deepened their interest in art and come to naturally enjoy its variety of artistic expression.

  2. To increase citizen awareness of and participation in urban management

    From planning through execution, we are composed of citizens, harnessing their knowledge and energy without relying on event companies or advertising agencies. This style has remained unchanged since the beginning. Shizuoka’s citizens - who had once said they would not get into it, would not dance and wanted to stop – are now actively involved in planning and running Daidogei. This includes the young and old, both men and women. Our executive committee, which works all year round, has 120 members, while the volunteers for Daidogei’s four days top 1,000 people. Recently, the number of people coming from elsewhere in Japan to volunteer is on the rise. We also get a surplus of applications to the 20 spots in Daidogei College, which was started in the festival’s second year, and there are now nearly 470 citizen clowns. Shizuoka is quite unlike anywhere else in the entire world.

  3. To boost citizens’ pride in their city

    Every year since Daidogei began, the number of visitors from elsewhere in Japan and overseas has gone up and our media exposure increased, making Daidogei an indispensable local specialty of Shizuoka and a point of pride for its citizens. In a way, it has gone completely beyond the confines of an event, and has begun to take root as a “festival” that is ingrained in citizens’ lives. Shizuoka IS Daidogei! You can even hear children in the city say such things.

  4. To raise Shizuoka’s reputation as an international city

    Shizuoka, which once had nearly no name recognition overseas, has become known through Daidogei World Cup, especially to artists and those involved in the festival. Every year there are more and more hopefuls from overseas who wish to perform, as well as many artists who have come to love Shizuoka and join Daidogei again and again. In the last few years, there has been an increase in festival directors and tourists from overseas. You could even call Daidogei the star attraction for promoting the city. There are also many exchanges and interactions that occur during the festival itself.

  5. To consequently invigorate Shizuoka’s economy through the abundance of visitors

    Every year, the number of people who visit during the four days of the festival tops 1.5 million. A 2007 survey worked out the economic ripple effect to be \2.2 billion. Also, it is said that the indirect economic effects are extremely high, with people visiting Shizuoka for the first time taken by the city’s charms and coming again to visit. In these ways, the Daidogei World Cup enlivens people and the city.

 What Makes Daidogei World Cup Different

How has Daidogei World Cup come to gain so much attention? We believe it is due to the high quality and variety of the participating artists, as well as the festival’s unique organization. On the other hand, it could be due to the fact that coin tossing has come to be a fixture of the local culture.

  • World Cup Competition Category

    As its name suggests, this category is for deciding the world’s best performing artists. The jury is composed of 20 select citizens together with producers and festival directors joining from throughout Japan and all over the world. Judgments are made through the “nagesen method,” which is unique to Shizuoka. The criterion is simple: “If you had \1,000 in coins, how much of it would you toss for the performance you just saw?”
    The Champion, Silver, and Bronze Awards are given to one group each. Depending on the year, an Executive Committee Special Award is also given, which, along with the Silver and Bronze Awards, promises participation in next year’s competition. The Champion group members are invited as Guest Artists the following year. For this category, only 14 groups can participate each year from the hundreds that apply.

    Prize Money
    Champion: 2,000,000 yen
    Silver: 500,000 yen
    Bronze: 300,000 yen
    Executive Committee Special Award: 100,000 yen

  • “On” Category

    This category is split into two sections: normal acts judged on performance points, and mobile “walking art.” Every year, 35-40 groups from throughout Japan and abroad participate, but year by year it gets harder to appear. The application rate has risen about fivefold.

  • “Fringe” Category

    The Fringe Category was newly created with Daidogei’s 25th anniversary. There are a number of genres and artists which, until now, were not asked to join as they did not fall under our range of invitations. For these people, we have begun to provide a place to be active and network with directors. As the number of artists who participate in this category grows, the uniqueness of Daidogei World Cup will make a greater impression and its appeal will rise.

  • Special Programs

    Special programs include big-scale spectacles invited only once every few years, artsier street theatre, nouveau cirque, contemporary dance, and performances given in small theaters and tents. These are held out of the desire to introduce even just one more original variety of performing art rarely seen in Japan.