Last weekend was the high point of the year for all Awaodori fans in and around Tokyo. Two massive festivals took place, the grand Koenji Awaodori Festival and also the Minamikoshigaya Awaodori Festival up in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. The Saitama festival takes place on broad modern streets, much different from the intimate and down to earth Koenji festival, so there is a big difference in how the two festivals compare. Although not nearly as big and varied as the Koenji festival the Minamikoshigaya festival manages to attract several of genuine Tokushima teams which are generally regarded as the best in the world. It is not really fair to compare the teams, but there are some truly exceptional teams in terms of skill to be seen in this festival. One of them, a personal favorite and quite famous around the country is the Ebisuren straight from Tokushima Prefecture itself. They performed late in the evening of this very long festival but gave a near perfect performance, as usual.
Next year come August, if you wan’t to see Awaodori but are not too keen on the crowds of Koenji, I recommend trying out Minamikoshigaya, it is easy to get there from Tokyo as the Hanzomon subway line connects all the way through.
It is winter and the toughest thing about this season for me is to survive without visiting any Awaodori dance festivals! Thankfully I have Youtube to see me through the winter, with thousands of videos of my favorite teams. Here are some photos from the Minamikoshigaya Awaodori Festival (南越谷阿波踊り) in Saitama Prefecture just north of Tokyo. This might be the second biggest Awaodori festival in the Kanto area, and it usually takes place at the same time as the biggest one, the Koenji Awaodori Festival in Tokyo, something which is really annoying for us Awa fans. The festival in Saitama attracts some fantastic teams, even some genuine Tokushima teams that we generally never see in this part of country, so it is well worth skipping one day of the Koenji festival to check this one out as well. The festival itself is quite different from other Awaodori festivals as the streets used a two or three times as wide as the widest Tokyo streets, so the ambience and the photography is quite different. Being used to being so close to the dancers that you can see every drop of sweat, the Koshigaya festival takes some getting used to.
I took these photos of some beautiful members of several different teams, the Koushoukai Asunaroren (工匠会あすなろ連), the Inaseren (いなせ連), the Hibuki (飛舞伎), the Miyabiren (雅連) and the Hokushinren (北辰連). I can’t wait for next summer to come around!
Yesterday I forewent my usual visit to the second day of the Koenji Awaodori or the Otsuka Awaodori and instead went up to Minamikoshigaya in Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo. I don’t get many chances or reasons to visit the city so on top seeing one of the more famous Awaodori festivals I also get to throw in some sightseeing! There are four major parade grounds on this huge festival attracting about 70 different teams from all over Japan. The grounds are all four lane streets so there’s plenty of space for the dancers and the city throws in sheeting for anyone to sit on along the parade grounds, making this the ideal Awaodori festival for families with kids. There’s also two different stages, one informal stage where you can get right up next to the dancers and one bigger proper stage where I took these photos of the Kimuraren (きむら連). Good lighting, good sound, and a great chance for all the teams to show what they have really been practicing all those winter months!
This festival is a three day event and well worth putting into your calendar for next year, especially if you live in Saitama!
A couple of weeks ago I posted a few snapshots of some very handsome men taken at the Minamikoshigaya Awaodori festival at the end of last month. Here are a few more very good looking guys from the Fujionren, Kioiren, Soka-Oyamaren and finally the world famous Ahoren from Tokushima prefecture. Are they not fantastic looking?