Awa Odori 2016 in Koenji

The Koenji Awa Odori (阿波踊り) Dance is one of the major summer event held in Tokyo. This year marked the sixtieth edition and over 10,000 dancers spared no effort to entertain over 1 million visitors in spite of the rain.

The Awa Odori festival stems from the tradition of Bon odori, which is a danced 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. The festivities originate from the sixteenth century in the city of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. Tokyo's Koenji Awa Odori was first held in 1957 in the aim of revitalizing the small shopping streets throughout the town.

The dance is performed by dance troupes, called Ren (連), which can gather close to 100 musicians and dancers who move in lines along the streets. One of the specificity of the Awa-Odori is the straw amigasa hat worn by women. Two types of dances exist. the "male" dance has low stance while the "female" dance is performed wearing kimonos, and hence do not allow large leg movements. The "male" dance however is often also performed by women and children.

Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
A resident of Japan for nearly a decade, Guillaume Erard trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, where he received the 5th Dan from Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. He also holds a 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the secretive art that Morihei Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda. Erard is the Information Director of the International Aikido Federation and the Deputy Secretary of International Affairs of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Shikoku Headquarters. He is also passionate about science and education and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.
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