Awa Odori, Tokushima prefecture’s summer feature, is the biggest event where 1,350,000 people from all over Japan gather for, and is one of Japan’s traditional performing arts that has been performed for about 400 years. There are different stories about the origin of Awa Odori, but many people say that it used to be danced to comfort the spirits of the deceased, because it has always been held around August 15th, during “Obon” when the dead come back to their home. During the festival period, the city has traffic restrictions widely, and not only the special stage but also everywhere around Tokushima city center, including streets and parks get involved with crazy dance.
Awa Odori: One of Japan’s Three Biggest Bon-odori
Awa Odori has 2 types of dances: Otoko-odori (man’s dance) is to be danced wearing a happi coat or yukata (casual kimono) and a pair of tabi (Japanese style socks); Onna-odori (woman’s dance) is to be danced wearing a lady’s yukata, a woven hat, and a pair of geta (a Japanese style of shoes). These dances vary; some are energetic, some are elegant. But the both have high-mettled call-outs in common “Yatto sah” or “Yatto Yatto.”
Open to Anybody, Walk in and Join an Instant Group
Awa Odori is made up of dancing groups each of which is called “ren,” and more than 1,000 rens participate every year. There is a group called “Niwaka-ren (instant group)” in which anybody, even without experiences, can join in with any clothes to get on the special stage to dance after they have a lesson from expert dancers of a famous ren.
A Little different Awa Odori to Be Danced During the Daytime
Awa Odori to dance and march in the town starts at 18:00 but during the festival famous groups dance for “Senbatsu (Select) Awa Odori” held in a hall in the city so that you can enjoy watching during the daytime. Senbatsu Awa Odori has an illuminated stage and 3 famous rens dance on there every day, which is a little different from Awa Odori in the town.