History of Marching in Okayama
To celebrate the 100th anniversary incorporated City of Okayama and the opening of the Great Seto Bridges, one of the most beautiful suspension bridges connecting the Honshu Main island and Shikoku island in 1988, Akira Kamei, city councilor and his friends founded the “Marching In Okayama” Festival to develop the exciting marching band pageantry from Okayama to the entire nation. The late chairman of the committee, former Okayama Police Drum & Bugle Corps Chief, Masahiko Yasuda and his friend Sadao Yokota, president of Dynasty Japan supported Akira Kamei’s new cultural challenge.
Sadao was traveling around Japan to introduce drum corps activity in Japan since 1980 and found Okayama as oasis of all Japanese drum corps culture. Since the initial event of “Marching In Okayama” Festival in 1988, Dynasty Japan and Dynasty USA were honored to become a sole music corporate sponsor. The grand national showcase of the Festival included the National Champion Groups all over Japan such as the Yokohama Inspires Senior Drum Corps, the Sumanoura Ventures Drum Corps, the Yokohama Scouts Drum Corps, and prominent school marching bands from Okinawa , Mecca of the Japanese maching band culture.
In 1992 to commemorate the 5th Anniversary Akira Kamei and SadaoYokota decided to invite the 5 time winner of Winter Guard Champion, The San Jose Raiders to Okayama to motivate the Japanese marching band and drum corps culture. Friend connection between City of Okayama and City of San Jose as sister city celebrated this new cultural bridges over the Pacific Ocean. Tom Andrews and Ron Nankerbis with their crews fascinated hundreds of thousand people in Japan by their dramatic and eccentric theatrical performance and initiated many Japanese color guard into modern artistic show.
In 1993 Akira Kamei agreed with Sadao Yokota to the project to help Japanese drum corps to start the first Japanese official drum corps championship being judged by DCI adjudicators. Sadao Yokota, experienced professional interpreter, translated the DCI judges educational and contest materials into Japanese language and translated all conversation at critiques of which concept was never introduced in Japan before. This historical and academic move influenced all other Japanese marching band and drum corps contests since then. Drum Corps Japan were to be organized a few years after.
In 1997 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of “Marching In Okayama Festival” and to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Okayama Castle “Marching In Okayama” was honored by the visit of The Future Corps from Walt Disney World Epcot, Florida, who had never toured outside the United States since they were organized. They also shared the celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Epcot Future Corps with Okayama citizens and marching music fans from all over Japan. The extended concert tour in Yokohama City was also sponsored by Dynasty Japan and Dynasty USA. No need to say that their professional performance encouraged the numerous small drum corps in Japan. After then every year the new music group “Primary Colors” consists of the selected members of the Future Corps and other Disney musicians sponsored by Dynasty Japan and Dynasty USA visited Okayama proudly with the professional sound.
The Great Millennium Marching In Okayama summoned the marching heroes from the world, the Millennium Primary Colors as of the revived Future Corps as honorary guest from Disney World, Florida, the Samsung Everland Millennium Percussion Group from Seoul ,Korea, the Grand National Open Class Champion Tenri Aimachi Marching Band, the Grand National Senior High School Champion Okinawa Nishihara High School Marching Band, and many other Japanese competitive drum corps and marching bands. As of the only televised marching pageantry in Japan the Festivals and Championships in Okayama became popular all over Japan for years.
In 2001 Okayama welcomed the Micro Magic consisted of selected members from the Magic of Orland Drum & Bugle Corps and again the Sumsung Everland Festival Band from Korea, 2000 Okayama Drum Corps Champion 1989 Jokers Senior Drum Corps and many other groups all over Japan. The Yokohama Inspires Senior Drum Corps returned and won the 2001 Champion’s title back.
In 2002 10 time winner of DCI Championship The Blue Devils visited Okayama and attracted not only Okayama citizens but also hundres of thousand of visitors from all over Japan. They had visited Japan a few times yet the maximum impact was generated in Okayama.
Today the marching pageantry of “Marching in Okayama” flourish with many exciting indoor and outdoor concerts, grand parade, festival and championships. Okayama is the only international marching contest having the US (DCI) and Japan adjudication panel for a decade in Japan. Not only Okayama has been motivating Japanese marching bands and drum corps educationally but also brought the thrilling marching entertainment to Japanese audience. It is proven by the fact that the most events are managed by a thousand of local volunteers and supporters. And there is a lot more exciting cultural friendship programs in town nights and days for visitors and residents internationally.
The Governor and City Mayor of Okayama as well as all marching band and drums corps fans in Japan welcome the 11 time winner of DCI Champion, The Blue Devils in 2003.