By SXSW Staff Writer



Overcoming Obstacles: Japanese VR Dancer yoikami’s Win At SXSW

yoikami – SXSW Online XR – SXSW Avatar Dance Contest

SXSW’s annual event is notorious for memorable moments and groundbreaking discussions led by industry tastemakers from around the world. Moving into the digital realm for SXSW Online 2021, the event led to countless opportunities that might have otherwise gone undiscovered. Enter SXSW Online XR, a virtual component of the event featuring content created specifically for the virtual reality (VR) world.

Through SXSW Online XR, attendees were transported to the heart of a virtual downtown Austin to enjoy live music, conference sessions, networking, and even walk around as an avatar. One of this year's most notable standouts was VR dancer yoikami from Hokkaido, Japan who brought creativity center stage and shed light on the power of dance at the XR Avatar Costume Contest + Dance Contest.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Japan (by Tomoko Hasegawa), yoikami discussed his achievement at the Avatar Dance Contest as well as his journey to VR stardom.

Junsei Yoshida, known as yoikami, started using VR as a method for rehabilitation four years ago after daily life was impacted by his hemiplegia, a paralysis of one side of the body.

"I wasn't interested in VR or dance until four years ago. I started VR dance instead of rehabilitation. I thought that this would strengthen my immobile body. It was just an inspiration," shared yoikami. "My body is so tattered due to side effects, it is not pleasant to see even now. But, my body started to heal as I enjoyed the rhythm with my friends from home rather than at the rehabilitation at the hospital."

From there, yoikami ventured into the world of virtual dance, wearing a head-mounted display on his head, controllers in both hands, and trackers on his hips and feet. He continued to master his VR techniques which eventually lead him to SXSW Online XR for his VR performance at the SXSW Avatar Dance Contest.

"VR made it possible for me to stand on such a big stage, dance, and have an amazing time! Here in SXSW VR, people from different backgrounds are gathering. Dance is something that anyone can do and knock down the barriers of language and culture. I would be happy if I could bring something people can sympathize with. I would like to continue sending messages using yoikami as a speaker along with the music. I am truly thankful to have this opportunity." – yoikami

With his creative spirit shining through the virtual reality landscape into our own, yoikami shows us the exciting possibilities of how VR can be used to inspire, uplift, and bring together people across diverse backgrounds around the globe. VR is no longer the world of the future – it's now opening up new doors into new worlds of celebration.

As the leader of the Kaso Group, the world's first VR dance and acting group, yoikami continues to evolve the digital art form which can be found on their website and Twitter. Take a look at yoikami’s SXSW Online performance and explore more highlights from SXSW Online XR.

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By SXSW Staff Writer