1.3 Million Tourists At The Annual Japanese Awa Odori Street Dance Festival
I was fortunate enough to attend the Japanese Dance Festival in Nakameguro where 20 dance teams perform traditional dance styles
As a fan of ParaPara I truly enjoy any Japanese dance so last Saturday I went to the Awa Odori together with my friend Heather.
The Nakameguro Summer Matsuri Awa Odori is one of the Awa Odori festivals in Tokyo. Nakameguro Summer Matsuri contains two dance parades during the entire weekend.
There are about 20 dance teams participating and show off their unique Awa Odori dance to the audiences.
Heather took me to a very cozy beer hall where we drank Hoppy in the Ebisu district prior to the event.
The Awa Odori festival grew out of the tradition of the Bon odori which is danced as part of the Obon "Festival of the Dead", a Japanese Buddhist celebration where the spirits of deceased ancestors are said to visit their living relatives for a few days of the year.
They march through the streets in unison to music performed on the shamisen, flute, drums, and bells singing "Odoru aho ni miru aho; onaji aho nara odoranya son son!" (It's a fool who dances and a fool who watches; if both are fools, you might as well dance!).
The dancing style is believed to have been invented one night in 1585, when construction of a new castle for the lord of the Awa domain was completed. During the party held to celebrate the new castle, people got so drunk that they started dancing with their arms and legs flailing.
The movements are really simple; all you have to do is keep your legs and arms moving forward with as much vigor as possible. Men dance in tabi (split-toed, rubber-soled socks), while women wear sandals, their heels not touching the ground.
One rule you have to observe is to keep your hands and arms above your shoulder while dancing.