Winter is hell for us Awaodori dance lovers, if it was not for the only more or less annual winter Awaodori performance in Tokyo’s Dome City I don’t know what I’d do! Every year, as part of the grand Furusato Matsuri event being held inside Tokyo Dome there are a few big Awaodori performances outside, given to the general public visiting the LaQua fairground just next to Tokyo Dome near the Korakuen subway station. This year again it was a combined effort of dancers from the mega stars Suikoren and the Hyottokoren with added assistance from the Minami-Koshigaya Tensuiren. The drum team was even more gifted with guest appearances from quite a few different Tokushima prefecture teams.
The performance is held in the freezing winter evening under the LaQua Mandala Globe, which is made by a Toksushima company and is one millionth the size of the Earth, roughly twelve times ten meters. It is part of the LaQua/Tokyo Dome City winter illuminations program to attract visitors to this fair ground even in the colder month. This year it is set to run until February 16th.
Tokyo Dome City where this event is held is one of Tokyo’s permanent fair grounds, and full of attractions aimed at kids and young couples. Maybe not the first place to visit for the average casual tourist but a given day trip for any family or people who stay a little longer in Tokyo. The other choices for fair grounds would be (to mention a couple) the Hanayasiki at Asakusa or Odaiba.
Some more photos from the Akita Kanto Festival team visiting the big Furusato Matsuri at Tokyo Dome last year. Accompanying the team was of course musicians, including taiko drummers. These are photos from the parade as the poles and lanterns are carried around the arena. At the Furusato Matsuri (meaning the “home town festival”) famous festivals from all over Japan take turn entertaining the audience, when I was at the festival it was this team from Akita prefecture, and also Awaodori dancers from Tokushima prefecture and dancers from Okinawa in the south. It is held every year in January, over several days in the huge Tokyo Dome arena. Recommended!
Every year in August up in Japan’s northern Akita prefecture there is the traditional Aktia Kanto Festival, a harvest festival that uses long bamboo poles with painted lanterns in amazing balancing acts! The poles and lanterns (that are lit at night) weigh about 50kg each, but of course there are even heavier, I have heard of some that weigh about 80kg! These are held in one arm, or balanced on any part of your body that you can think of, and carried in parades. As part of their tourism drive, a team of festival performers travel to Tokyo a few times a year, so although I have never been to Akita I have seen performances of this festival a few times. I took these photos at last year’s Furusato Matsuri at Tokyo Dome, a huge baseball stadium between Korakuen and Suidobashi stations. If you have free time in Tokyo today I recommend visiting the event where you can sample food and drinks and festivals from all over Japan in one handy spot! The daytime tickets are probably nearly sold out now, but the night time tickets are even cheaper, so even on a budget it shouldn’t be too expensive. I’ll post more photos of this amazing festival later on, but please excuse the poor photos, I was using a 50-500mm “Bigma” Sigma, the original widow maker and back breaker tele zoom lens. Absolutely not suitable for indoor photography!
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!