Not a week shall pass without me mentioning Awaodori! Well, it’s not for nothing some of my friends call me “Awaodoribaka” (Awaodori-crazy!). At last year’s Koenji Awaodori Festival, the biggest one in the world with over one million visitors and over 10 000 dancers, I saw one of my old favrites, the ever excellent Shiraishiren (白石連). I have posted about them before, and if you compare the photos I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the dancers and drummers! You’ll also notice that I have become better at picking good spots from where to take better pictures. This is always a major headache, not only do I have to turn up early to get the best spots, I also have to consider the teams I want to see, the angle of light, the color of the lights of the shops as the daylight fades, rain, crowds, access to alcohol (standing right next to a stand selling beer might sound nice but being jostled by friendly but slightly drunk people ever 15 seconds might be too much for my already strained nerves).
The Shiraishiren, was as good as any of the handfuls times that I have seen them so far. Their drum section is as steady as any of the most famous teams, and their chibi dancers (the kids) just keep getting better! I also like their unusually austere uniforms, maybe it is due to their background as the team of a local architecture and construction firm?
Here’s a few photos I took in last year’s big Awaodori dance festival in Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa district. This is the Toshusai (東洲斎), a wonderfully photogenic team that have grown to 61 members in less than the five years of its existence. They have a very clean white and blue uniform with a kabuki theater pattern that really stands out with the black and red details of their dress. A very stylish dance team! Only a few months left now until the proper start of the Awaodori season.
Here’s one team of famous Awaodori dancers from Tokyo’s Koenji district, the Benkeiren (弁慶連). I took these at the huge annual Awaodori festival in Koenji last year, just as the sky was falling to a dark blue and the red light from the street lights started. The Benkeiren is one of those huge and famous teams that seems to pop up almost everywere. They will invariably give a near perfect performance and this year they fielded one of the cutest teams of young dancers! About a million people crowd together for two days in Koenji every year to watch over 12 000 dancers perform, one of the festivals you can’t miss out on if you’re in Tokyo in August!
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!