It is a long time to wait for the official start of the Awaodori season, and while I wait I have been looking at old photos of the massive Awaodori festival in Koenji in August 2011. That festival was a little special since we were all on power saving mode the festival started two hours early to make better use of the available daylight. Despite having to perform in broad daylight (not very Koenijesque… which is much more of a night town) it proved quite easy to get good shots with so much light to spoil my camera! Here is the always gorgeous Sharakuren (写楽連) of the Koenji Awaodori association, formed in 1980 who has even performed in Europe!
Soon it’s only 7 months left until paradise on Earth for all Awaodori lovers: the annual Koenji Awaodori Matsuri! As usual I can’t survive too long without my Awaodori so here’s a few photos of the lovely Aoiren (あおい連) that I took at last year’s festival. I usually try to go to both days on that most famous festival but sometimes like last year I end up only being able to attend one of the two days, one of the biggest in Tokyo with over one million visitors and 10 000 dancers! Getting a good spot to see the parade is an art form in itself and something that I personally think about a lot, not only a good spot but also somewhere that is photogenic, the right light, the right color light, the right audience (a too rowdy audience will make it difficult to take photos but on the other hand you get bigger smiles on the dancers) and the right spot! Since there are dozens of teams performing you will only see about half of them depending on where you stand so if you have favorite teams you have to keep that into account as well. Phew! Too early to start planning this year’s spot right now!
Another cool thing to look out for are the specialist comedy dancers, men (mostly men anyway) who have a special mime routine they do to entertain the spectators. Everyone is different and Awaodori lovers soon find their own favorites. The comedy dancer in Aoiren is the man in the last photo, he pretends to be a drunken man (remember that Awaodori started out as drinking dance hundreds of years ago) that is pretending to be a flirty woman – hilarious! Most of his poses were far to “glamorous” to post on this blog though! So keep an eye out for him at this year’s Awaodori festival in Koenji – it’s in August!
In connection with the annual Furusato matsuri at Tokyo’s great arena, the Tokyo Dome the neighboring amusement park put on an Awaodori show with two of great Tokyo teams; the Hyottokoren and the Suikoren as well as a famous team from out of town, the Aifubukiren. It the second time I see Awaodori in the winter and it always feels strange to see this dance in the biting cold. Still, despite the cold and the rapidly falling daylight, the dancers did great! The musicians were a little bit separated from the dancers so I missed out on the deafening drums and successions of flutes and shamisen! I think the Furusato matsuri is still on tomorrow, so go have a look! It’s a great chance to learn more about food from around the country without leaving Tokyo!
The start of the Awaodori festival season is still many months away but it’s never too early to start promoting some of the many teams that will brighten our festivals in the summer to come! Here’s a mix of beauties of different ages from three different dance teams, the Daikonren, the Koseinenkinbyouinren and the famous Tokyo Tensuiren.