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.
Every year at the big Konouhachimangu Festival being held all over Shibuya we are also treated with a mini guest performance by the massive Nebuta festival from Aomori Prefecture up to the northern end of Japan’s main Honshu island. The nebuta decorations in this festival is far smaller than the ones used in the real event, but still very colorful and popular with both tourists and locals. Accompanying the decorations are a few busloads of local Aomori braves from the Aomori University. They must be from the sports department or something as they are all bigger than the average Shibuya guys! A few of them started the festival by somersaulting and backflipping their way down the street! It was very impressive. Another funny happening was when all the young guys passing me stopped what they were doing and just stared and pointed to something next to me. I turned and looked and found a tourist, one of the most beautiful young western women I have seen in Tokyo. She looked quite embarrassed as she was absolutely interfering with the festival by just being there (see photos 6 and 7 from the bottom)!
All in all, the festival was quite a bit of fun and it must have surprised the people pouring out of the busy Shibuya JR station to find the Nebuta festival right in front of the station main exit! I am already looking forward to next year!
Being the Awaodori idiot I am I can’t really stop blogging about the subject! At last weekends Awaodori festival in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward, in Kyodo, I saw this great team, the Tenshoren (天翔連). Kyodo is one of the trickier festivals to dance in and also one of the trickiest to enjoy as a spectator, still this great team managed to put on fantastic smiles throughout the two hours of non stop dancing in the sweltering heat. The more you learn about Awaodori, the traditional folk dance from Tokushima Prefecture in southern Japan, the more you understand that the single most important ability is the ability to smile, and this team has it down almost perfect. Smiling is really contagious, and after seeing Tenshoren perform it is really hard not to be infected by their happiness!
Last weekend was packed with events, exhibitions, festival, dances and music all over Japan and certainly all over Tokyo! I spent Saturday making sure I got the most the Awaodori festival in Tokyo’s Kyodo district, where the annual dance festial took place along the main shoutengai (shopping street) of the area. It’s a little peculiar awaodori festival and I had a really hard time getting any kind of decent colors for my photos. At night you have to make do with what little light there is and most of it comes from all sorts of street lights, shop windows, electric signs and so on, all with a different color profile. Still, I did my best to get good shots of one of Tokyo’s better known teams, the Edokkoren (江戸っ子連), founded in 1970 in Koenji. They are excellent at all parts, with some very energetic men and exceptionally steely nerved shamisen players!
The Kyodo Matsuri is a cool festival with part of the first day devoted to both Awaodori and Okinawan dance, and the second day to Samba! If you are in town next year, I suggest you go enjoy the music, the people and the food!