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#5 Osaka as the Holy Place for Street Dancers

Did you know that Osaka is often recognized as the center for street dance in Japan today?

Known for characteristic spins on the head and back, breakdance first evolved in the 1970s among young generations of African Americans and Latino Americans in South Bronx, New York. In the midst of intense rivalry between street gangs, young dancers competed with their techniques in this new style of street dance as alternatives to violent fights. As more acrobatic moves, such as "windmill," "headspin," and "handspin," were created and incorporated, the popularity of breakdancing began to spread. In 1983, the movie "Flashdance" became a global hit and introduced breakdancing worldwide. Influenced and motivated by the movie, many young people around the world started "breaking."

Following the enormous success of "Flashdance," breakdancing was featured in a number of movies as well as television programs and commercials. The boom, however, gradually slowed down and its popularity had chilled by the late 80s. During this period, breakdancing evolved to a new level in Europe as more complicated power moves and new combinations of techniques were developed. Cultural elements were also added to the style, from African folk dances to the Brazilian fighting sport called capoeira. During the 90s, its popularity returned and it became a global movement. Today, breakdancing is considered a borderless entertainment that anyone in the world can enjoy beyond the language barrier.

In Korea, as the new century began, highly skilled dancers emerged one after another and performed revolutionary moves, winning international competitions and becoming globally famous. Today, breakdancing is one of the major national industries. Popular teams and dancers are national idols, are featured on various TV programs and commercials, and draw fans to their concert shows. They act as professional dancers by signing sponsorship contracts with major sport brands such as Adidas and Puma. A number of theaters exclusively present street dance performances and have become a popular tourist attraction.

"Angel Dust Breakers"

"Angel Dust Breakers" was a breakdance team that was popular in the 80s in Osaka. Takashi Okamura, a popular comedian from the comedy duo "Ninety-Nine," was a member of the team. In 1992, the leader of the team, Machine Harada, founded his own company, ADHIP, to produce various events featuring street dancing. Although the popularity of breakdancing had already declined in Japan by then, Harada also launched a dance contest, Japan Dance Delight, which has been continuing as the only national street dancing competition in Japan since 1994.

Generally, dance teams from the Kansai region including Osaka are said to have a higher level of skill and technique than those from Tokyo. It has been a common scene at competitions that the teams from Kansai are stronger and are often ranked higher among their competitors. It is believed that dancers from Kansai are better because they are "hungrier" than dancers from Tokyo. In Tokyo, it is rather easy to find jobs as a professional dancer, such as a backup dancer, once you reach a certain skill level. To be a successful dancer in Osaka, on the other hand, the only chance that may be available is to win a contest. A number of dance competitions and events are held at the Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT), which is located at JR Namba Station and is known, today, as Japan's center for street dance. Some local teams have improved their dance techniques so that they can be comparable to those from Korea, France, and the United States.

In Japan, street dance is considered a fun and healthy activity for young people today. The population of b-boys and b-girls has exploded in recent years, especially among younger children. Some high schools now offer dance courses as part of their curriculum. It is also planned that public junior high schools will begin offering dance classes in 2011 as part of their physical education program. Many street dance events are now held at public halls rather than hidden underground places. And "Hitomi," a new NHK morning drama series that started this April, features a heroin who wants to become a professional street dancer. Street dance has become part of our society and is more commonly acknowledged by the public.

On August 30 (Sat.), the final competition of the 15th Japan Dance Delight takes place at the main arena of Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium. Held at this facility, which has a seating capacity of 10,000, the event will be the largest team dance competition in the world. It is also expected to bring significant economic effects to local businesses, such as transportation, hotels, restaurants, and shops. It is obvious that street dance is becoming a new attraction that Osaka City proudly presents. As top-class competitions are held and new talented dancers are discovered, the city continues to appeal to the world as an energetic international city.

The 14th Japan Dance Delight Final Competition (September 1, 2007)
at Pacifico Yokohama, National Convention Hall

April 1, 2008
Hiroshi Yamanou, Osaka Brand Center

Machine Harada Profile
Harada started breakdancing after he was inspired by "Flashdance" and also the breaking performance of Rock Steady Crew in "Wild Style." In 1986, Harada formed a dance team "Angel Dust Breakers" and continued to expand the performance levels of the team until it became one of the best known breaking teams in Japan. In 1992, Harada established ADHIP, a company to promote street dance events, and has produced a number of street dance events including Japan Dance Delight, the largest street dance competition in Japan. In 1994, he established a free newspaper "Dance Delight" and launched a series of Dance Delight videos. Today, Harada stays active and continues to produce stage performances and dance schools. He serves as a judge at many breaking battles as well.


The team was formed in 2002 and is known for its outstanding performances based on their acrobatic breaking techniques. In 2007, the team won the final of the Japan Dance Delight, which was said to be the most competitive year in the event's history. Since then, the team has become widely known among breakers and is recognized by the entire street dance industry. As the most skillful dance group from Japan, the team has won a number of domestic and international dance competitions, including the Battle Of The Year (BOTY) Japan competition in 2004 and 2006 and the UK Championship in 2005 and 2007. Among its members, Kaku is the central performer of the team and is a respected, world-class dancer, who is known for his high-level techniques that only a few dancers in the world have been able to master. Other members, "Ryoma," "Juju," and "Yosshi" are also recognized as top, world-class breakers.