Have you heard of Awa Odori?

In Japan, there are many festivals. When one says Japanese festivals, we think of Gion Festival (Kyoto), Nebuta (Aomori), Tanabata, etc. But, have you heard of a festival called ‘Awa Odori’? Not many might have heard of it.

What is it about?

In Tokushima city, Japan, there is a special festival that takes places in the middle of August. This is Awa Odori. It takes places during the Obon festival and is one of the famous dance festivals in Japan. If one had to describe this festival, this saying fits it – [ Fools dance, fools watch. If they are all fools, then just dance!] It means that those who dance are fools. Those who watch them are also fools. So, if they are all fools then dance together. It said that those who don’t dance are the biggest fools. Hence, this is also called the ‘Fool’s dance’.

There is dance costume for both males and females. Women wear cream-coloured kimono with black obi with pink obijime (rope attached to an obi). On their feet are geta (wooden sandals) which are either black or red and they adorn a straw hat on their head. Men dress in hanten (festival dress), heko obi and tabi.

Depending the song and lyrics, all the people dance on the street. This is a dance that anyone can do. It’s not just Japanese but foreigners also take part in this festival. There are around 100 million participants!

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