At the first evening of the annual Mitaka Awaodori festival last weekend I saw the fabulous Hachamecharen (波奴連) perform their set piece right at the end of the parade ground. Easily one of the best spots to enjoy this great festival. This group is based in western Tokyo’s Musashi Koganei. As with most local teams (teams that have strong roots in a location rather then being corporate based or traditional) their home turf performances are considerably larger than when they are “away”. If you were to see them at the annual Koganei Awaodori festivel you’d find there would be many more of them! Still, size is never a criteria in Awaodori, just spirit and dedication, and this group has both of that. I am already looking forward to next year’s Awaodori season even though this year’s season isn’t over yet.
Tonight is the second night of the annual Mitaka Awaodori festival in Tokyo’s western Mitaka City (三鷹市). It start at 1800 but there is usually a couple of performances earlier in the day as well. Right now is just about the perfect timing for a festival, the weather is unbelievably cool for being Tokyo in August so you won’t have to sweat it out as much as usual! I was at the festival last night and it was as fun as usual. The crowds are thickest closer to the station so just keep walking and it will thin out a little at the end of the festival area. I saw my old favorites the Mitakaren (みたか連), and two new favorites for this year, Bikkuriren (びっくり連) and Fudouren (富道連) whom I have somehow missed all these years. I also saw Sakuraren who were just as good as always!
Mitaka city is easily accessible on the JR Chuo line, and the festival is near the south exit of the station. Enjoy!
Last weekend was the high point of the year for all Awaodori fans in and around Tokyo. Two massive festivals took place, the grand Koenji Awaodori Festival and also the Minamikoshigaya Awaodori Festival up in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. The Saitama festival takes place on broad modern streets, much different from the intimate and down to earth Koenji festival, so there is a big difference in how the two festivals compare. Although not nearly as big and varied as the Koenji festival the Minamikoshigaya festival manages to attract several of genuine Tokushima teams which are generally regarded as the best in the world. It is not really fair to compare the teams, but there are some truly exceptional teams in terms of skill to be seen in this festival. One of them, a personal favorite and quite famous around the country is the Ebisuren straight from Tokushima Prefecture itself. They performed late in the evening of this very long festival but gave a near perfect performance, as usual.
Next year come August, if you wan’t to see Awaodori but are not too keen on the crowds of Koenji, I recommend trying out Minamikoshigaya, it is easy to get there from Tokyo as the Hanzomon subway line connects all the way through.
The biggest mainland Awaodori festival of the year is taking place right now at Koenji. The massive Koenji festival attracts almost a million visitors and features over 10 000 dancers and musicians in one of the most epic festivals of the year here in Tokyo. Starting at 1700 these days (but with plenty of sporadic dancing from around noon to 1600 during the day as well) you get a good view of the teams in daylight as well as dusk and evening. I took these photos of the Hisagoren (ひさご連) at yesterday’s festival. Especially the chibi dancers up front were as cute as buttons!
Tonight will be even better as the teams give their best for the final show. Since this is the biggest event for many teams around Japan many of them have been training hard especially for this night, so if you are in Tokyo and don’t mind the heat and the crowds, go over there and cheer them on!