Tonight starting at 1700 is the biggest Awaodori festival in mainland Japan, the Koenji Awaodori Matsuri. Running since 1957 it attracts about one million visitors and over 10 000 dancers during the two night event. Up until 2011 it always started at 1800, like most Awaodori festivals but in order to save electricity is has been set to start at 1700 since then, which in my opinion works well because you get both a little light and a little night.
However, there is also another massive Awaodori festival taking place in Minamikoshigaya in nearby Saitama tonight, as well as a huge Yosakoi festival in Harajuku. Lots of options tonight!
I took these photos from last year’s festival on the outer edges of the festival area, which are usually not very crowded. Here’s the great Shinjuku Ward Office official team the Tsutsujiren (新宿区役所つつじ連), the Awaodori Tamaki (阿波踊りたまき) and the Mitakaginzaren (みたか銀座連)!
Sunday’s Awaodori festival in Setagaya Ward’s Shimokitazawa was just as amazing as usual. The whole night and day before the festival saw strong winds and rain which lasted until 5 minutes before the festival was due to start, when the rain and clouds disappeared in perfect meteorological timing. As the festival kicked off the streets were nearly empty but people soon returned and by the end it was almost as crowded as usual.
I saw one of my favorite teams, the ever fantastic Yattokoren (やっとこ連) in their cool looking green-orange-white uniforms. I have blogged about them earlier here and here. If you missed this festival you have your big chance at the end of this month, the grand Koenji Awaodori Festival, the biggest Awaodori festival outside of Tokushima and one of the biggest festivals in Tokyo period.
Tonight – if we can persuade the weather Gods to let up on the rain – will be the second evening of the grand Shimokitazawa Awaodori festival. I was there last night and it was as good as usual with all the teams doing their best. The coming rains made last night unseasonably cool so it was near perfect Awaodori weather. I saw Benkeiren (弁慶連), one of my favorites, which I also blogged about when they took part in the Koenji Awadori festival in 2012. Comparing the photos you can tell that some of their very talented (really) kid dancers have grown quite a bit!
If you are in Tokyo tonight – head over to Shimokitazawa.
If you are in Tokyo over the weekend and not afraid to spend a few hours outdoors in the 35 degrees heat I can only recommend that you get over to Shimokitazawa for their two day annual Awaodori festival! It is always great fun and the narrow streets are perfect for enjoying the energy of Awaodori.
I took these photos at the festival in 2012, of the famous Takarabune (宝船) dance group, at their final set piece performance. The festival is actually divided into two parts. The first two and a half hours are dedicated to the parade but the last 30 minutes is set aside for each team to gather at a chosen spot and perform their set piece, complete with more advance routines giving them a chance to show of their skills. Just pick a team and cheer them on. You will never be able to find a team that beats Takarabune when it comes to comedy dancing though! I have blogged about this team a couple of times before, at Kyodo here, and at Shimokitazawa here.