Awa Odori

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima is another huge August dance festival to rank along Aomori's Nebuta and the Neputa in Hirosaki.

Awa Odori dancers, Tokushima
The Awa Odori takes place over the Obon period of August 12-15 and is marked by mass ranks (ren) of dancers, dancing through the streets of the city accompanied by music from drums, flutes, shamisen and bells.

The dance has a long history. Awa is the old feudal name for what is now the prefecture of Tokushima and the origins of Awa Odori are believed to date from the late 16th century and the completion of the town's castle and a drunken dance that followed in celebration.

Awa Odori, Tokushima
A particular refrain associated with Awa Odori is: Odoru aho ni, Miru ahou Onaji aho nara, Odorana son, son ("The dancing fool and the watching fool are both foolish. So why not get up and boogie?").

There are dances during the day called nagashi and more exuberant dances at night known as zomeki. The dance steps are fixed and vary for the two sexes. A visit to the Awa Odori Kaikan (Tel: 611 1611) in town will fill the visitor in on all he or she needs to know about the dance as well as the steps for each dance.


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