Awa Odori 阿波踊り
The dances of the "Awa Odori in Tokushima.
Awa Odori dancer of the festival (Tokushima), wearing the traditional hat amigasa.
The dancers of the Awa Odori.
Awa Odori is one of the biggest festivals in Japan. For four days, Tokushima is occupied by a very special long procession of dancers who seem to have stepped straight out of the past.
Awa is the former name of Tokushima. It is said that in 1587 the local lord decided to celebrate the construction of the castle. To do so, he offered sake to the people... who did not need to be asked twice. After a while, with the help of the alcohol, the people began to stagger. This very unsteady step became a dance, odori in Japanese.
A festival with two aspects
The Awa odori sounds like the promise of a short week in a trance, set to the rhythm of the shamisen, taiko (drums) and flutes. The days are punctuated by dancing, but it is at night that the frenzy truly takes over the city. The dancers are organized into groups, called ren and sometimes open to the public. The men dance in their own, dynamic and powerful way, and the women dance in their own way, which is both elegant and captivating.
Before the eyes of more than a million spectators, about 10,000 dancers come together for an old song: "Those who dance are crazy, those watching are crazy, they are all crazy, so why not dance?"