If you have free time in Tokyo tonight and are not too afraid of a little rain I recommend visiting Kyodo for their fantastic Awaodori festival, complete with a parade and stage set. Actually it is part of a two day local town festival which ties in with the Tokyo University of Agriculture, so rather than the normal shrine celebrations you will get everything from folk dance (mainly Saturday) to samba (on the Sunday). You can get more details from their homepage (in Japanese only) but generally the Awaodori kicks in from 1830 to 1900 on Saturday. I have never seen the samba carnival my self but it looks fantastic and starts at 1830 on Sunday. There is stuff happening from 1430 on Saturday and from 1400 on Sunday so even if you can’t stay for the whole thing it is worth going and just enjoying the atmosphere.
Here are some photos of the proud local team, the Kyodo Murasakiren (経堂むらさき連) who will be performing with eight other, all relatively well known Tokyo teams, including a couple of my personal favorites.
Awaodori festival season has started and one of the bigger festivals of the summer is the Shimokitzawa Awaodori festival. It’s a two day event, on the 9th and 10th of August, from 18:30 to 20:30. The narrow streets of Shimokitazawa makes for a very intimate and friendly festival where the audience is very close to the dancers. The drummers especially can be dangerous so it is usually best to stand back a little.
I saw the Yattokoren at last year’s festival, one of the local Shimokitazawa teams. The shotengai, or shopping street, where the festival takes place is called Ichibangai which has been place of commerce since the 1920s and really grew big after the second world war as most if survived the bombings and many merchants from other areas flocked to Shimokitazawa. The Awaodori festival was started in 1966 and this year’s festival will be the 49th.
Shimokitazawa is a great place to hang out and there’s plenty of shops and unique little restaurants and alleys to explore, so if you have time in August this year, make sure to visit!
The festival has an English homepage here.
More photos from the first day of the Mitamamatsuri at Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo. The four day event continues until Wednesday so there’s still plenty of time to see it all! One of the many performances I always try to catch is the awaodori dance by the local team, Kitanogomonren (北の御門連). Few awaodori performances take place at more beautiful places than among the many lanterns of the Mitamamatsuri.
If you are free tonight or tomorrow from 1800 I recommend going to see the festival for yourself!
Yesterday saw one of Tokyo’s newest and least well known Awaodori festivals, near the northern Itabashi Ward’s station Hasune, not very far from Saitama Prefecture. The festival has only a very short history so far so there are very few tourists around. Four teams participated and I caught two of them at the very start, Tomoeren and Shinsuiren. Lots of kids and young families turned up to watch and it was great to get a little bit of Awaodori in this first multi team event of the season in Tokyo.
Next up is the Awaodori festival in Niiza City, southern Saitama prefecture next weekend! More photos from the Hasune festival to come.