Tokyobling's Blog

Bonodori Dance at Hikawa Shrine – Akasaka

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 18, 2014

I hadn’t been to many bonodori festivals this summer so I was happy to find one scheduled for the final night of the large Hikawa Shrine festival in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. The bonodori is a rather complicated dance with music that makes it sound very like Sunday matinee movie from the late 1940s. It takes place around a raised podium where a taiko drummer helps keep the rhythm and it is usually performed in the traditional summer dress of Japan, the yukata (think kimono light). In a land with many dances and tradition thousands of years old it is good to see that new traditions are still slowly being grown, like this kind of dance. I imagine people in 1000 years will be dancing this to the exact same music and with the same movements as we do today.

As many bonodori festivals I have been to, this must surely be the most perfect. The space is not too large, not too small, and above all, it takes place under the trees! The red lanterns combine with the canopy of leaves to create a once in a lifetime perfect “room” for the dance to take place. I might be the only one to notice, but such perfection leaves me in tears these days. When I imagine the ideal bonodori location, this was it. I just didn’t know it really existed. I know bonodori ranks very low on the list of exciting festivals to see or experience, even for local Japanese, but if you are into it, this is the one to visit. It usually starts on the Sunday of the festival at 1830, but music starts much earlier, usually at 17300, and the drummers are always there early to warm up.

The Hikawa Shrine (氷川神社) in Minato Ward (there are hundreds all over Japan) is easily accessible from Akasaka, Tameikesanno, Nogizaka, Roppongi or Roppongi Ichome stations.

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_5813

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_5818

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_5867

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_5944

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_5961

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_6026

hikawashrine_matsuri_bonodori_5595

Mitaka Awadori – Hachamecharen

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 4, 2014

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.

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5830

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5834

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5844

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5852

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5861

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5868

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5897

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5899

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5900

mitakaren_awaodori_hachamecharen_5927

Tonight – Mitaka Awaodori Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 31, 2014

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!

mitaka_awaodori_fudouren_7133

mitaka_awaodori_fudouren_7106

mitaka_awaodori_bikkuriren_6709

mitaka_awaodori_bikkuriren_6852

mitaka_awaodori_fudouren_7068

mitaka_awaodori_mitakaren_6420

mitaka_awaodori_mitakaren_6490

mitaka_awaodori_sakuraren_6928

mitaka_awaodori_sakuraren_6970

Shimokitazawa Awaodori – Yattokoren

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 12, 2014

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.

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0828

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0872

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0882

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0895

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0920

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0924

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0941

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0943

shimokitazawa_awaodori_hyottokoren_2014_0985

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,556 other followers

%d bloggers like this: