Tokyobling's Blog

Suzakuren – Awaodori at Hatsudai

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on February 9, 2012

It’s been a few weeks without anything on Awaodori! That has to be remedied, so I decided to post these photos of Suzakuren (朱雀連), a Awaodori dance team from Koenji here in Tokyo. This is from their performance in Hatsudai last summer, and I just loved this performance! There were few of them and they had a lot of ground to cover, the festival area was very crowded and people were drinking and talking, even dancing out into the streets. A wonderful mix of young and old, teenagers and families, couples on dates and businessmen stopping to watch on their way home from work, Tokyo at its best! And then, the crowds attention as drawn to the chanting song and drums coming up from the street, kneeling on the hot asphalt, half blind from the construction worker light they’ve put up here and there along the street, out of the light Suzakuren comes dancing with all the energy they can muster, everyone drenched in sweat! First the standard bearers, then some of the male dancers, followed by a troupe of female dancers and scattered onnaodori girls before hitting us full force with the drums and flutes! All weaving and almost running through the crowd. A perfect Awaodori performance, even though I think the team itself would disagree! But this is what I like about Awaodori, the dancing and the music stays the same but the performance is so energetic, so raw and so compelling that you can’t help but be excited! A little chaos, a broken formation, a scattering of lost dancers and a broken shamisen string or a pierced drum, it only adds to the fun and unpredictability! Awaodori is and should be a participation event, crowds cheering and encouraging the dancers, each team trying to stay in formation while not crashing into the previous team or bunching up at the back. And of course, the things you can never portray in photos are as necessary too, the din, the ground sticky with spilled beer and lemonade, the kids falling over themselves, the din from the crowds and the drums, the heat and your hair sticking to your face trying to keep to your feet as people bounce into you. When all of this chaos and the perfect order of the dance, the perfect beauty of the performers and the perfect union of the crowds come together, that’s when you get an Awaodori high! I can’t wait for the season to start here in Tokyo, only a few more months to wait!










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11 Responses

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  1. Coal said, on February 9, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Was thinking it was about time you made another Awa themed posting. 😉 You’re welcome to come and watch us on 4th March if you need a fix before summer…

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on February 9, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Thanks Coal! Great minds think alike? (^-^) I might take you up on that offer! I am a little uncertain about my scheduling for that week…

      Like

  2. zoomingjapan said, on February 9, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Your festival photos are truly priceless and make your blog special! :3

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on February 9, 2012 at 7:32 am

      Thank you! Kind comments like yours is what keeps me posting! (^-^)

      Like

  3. Lissa Clouser said, on February 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I adore these pictures. There’s so much personality in every single one of them! The expressions of each of the dancers draw you in and make you stop to look at each image rather than scrolling past them in a hurry. Love it!!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on February 10, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Thank you Lissa! You are very kind! (^-^)

      Like

  4. Emma Reese said, on February 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I want to see live Awaodori! Too bad there’s no parade in March! But of course heat is a very necessary ingredient as you have described. It’s hard to imagine Awaodori audience shivering in the cold! Superb photos as usual!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on February 10, 2012 at 1:23 am

      Absolutely! Which is why it was weird to see an outdoor performance in mid January… (^-^;)

      Like

  5. Timi said, on February 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    One of the times when I like the guys’ clothes better 😀
    And those colors of the belts on the last pictures..I love them

    Like

    • kes said, on February 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Agree.. the color and pattern is lovely.

      #13 really shows the detail and the last one makes me smile. – The way he stand and is about to hit the drum makes me imagine the music and crowd. I just have to smile ^^

      Like

    • tokyobling said, on February 10, 2012 at 1:27 am

      Haha… yes, sometimes it happens! (^-^;) Love those belts too!

      Like


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