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Hip-Hop Dance Culture in Japan

By Shotaro Kumano

I don’t know if everyone knows, but the hip-hop dance is lately very popular in Japan. Especially in colleges and high schools. Most schools have dance teams and do various types of dancing which are originally from the U.S. It’s can be hard to identify the name of the dance but it’s generally divided three types: Old school (70s), Middle school (80s), and New school (90s). In addition, each three of these types has several difference styles of dance:

-Old school: Locking, Break, Punking Popping
-Middle school: Jazz, Middle
-New school: Girls, House, New

Each style of dance is done differently, but, as I said, they are all originally from the U.S. Hip-hop dance came to Japan around the 1980s. Right after that, it suddenly got popular especially for students in school. High schools and colleges in Japan have many club activities and students are very active after school. Most of the schools have dance clubs, and they usually do the dances that I mentioned above. They are very serious about improving their dancing skill. Almost every day, they practice dancing for 2-3 hours. Sometimes, they even have midnight practice. It starts around 11 pm and ends around 5 am. We don’t have a public train so we gather by the last train of the day and we go home by first train for next day. If you join the dance team, most of the time of your day is dedicated towards dance. Therefore, some people prefer not to do it. However, dance performances are pretty impressive because of all of their effort. Anyways if you come to Japan, you will be surprised because a lot of people (especially students) dance and they are actually good! Moreover, we are inspired by dance from the U.S. and there is definitely becoming a Japanese modern dance culture in Japan.

Check out the links before to see videos of each of the different styles of hip-hop dance!

Locking (video from Dance Company at Willamette University; Choreographed by Shotaro Kumano & Daisuke Ando)

Break (video from Dance Company at Willamette University; Choreographed by Ren Yamato)





Girls (video from Dance Company at Willamette University; Choreographed by Riho Ikeda)

House (video from Dance Team: Tokyo International University)

New (video from Dance Team: Tokyo International University)

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