Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori 2012

The Tokyo Koenji Awaodori is one of the largest Awaodori summer dance festivals and it is usually held on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month of August. Each year, almost 200 groups (ren, 連) gathering over 10,000 dancers perform in the streets of Koenji the traditional Awa dance to the sound of flutes, drums and bells. The performers travel through nine routes departing from Koenji JR Train Station.

Awaodori (阿波踊り) has been celebrated for over 400 years and originates from the Tokushima prefecture on the island of Shikoku but the precise story of this festival had been lost over the years even though it most likely had to do with celebration of the achievement of the Tokushima Castle. The dance itself is nicknamed the "mad people's dance" because of its chorus that says "Those who dance are mad, those who watch are mad, all are mad, so why not dancing?".

Koenji occupies 2 square kilometers and is home to over 40,000 souls. It takes its name from the famous Soto Zen Buddhist temple the Shukuhozan Koenji. The town is particularly famous for its live music scene and it is credited to be the home of Japanese punk. It also retains the charm of pre-economic boom era with its many small restaurants and shops.

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Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
A resident of Japan for nearly a decade, Guillaume Erard trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and he received the 5th Dan from Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. He is also 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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