Tokyobling's Blog

More Nagoyakaren – Nakamurabashi Awaodori

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 24, 2013

More photos of the energetic Nagoyakaren, one of the Awaodori teams from Nakamurabashi in Tokyo’s northern Nerima Ward. Awaodori is originally a sort of folk dance and folk music from Japan’s Shikoku island and the modern prefecture of Tokushima. Different dancers play different roles in the ensamble and although all dancers from all over the country follow the same basic steps and music there are a vast number of subtle differences in everything from movement to rhythm to costume to more complex dance routines. The music is almost always performed by flutists, shamisen (a stringed instrument) players and different kinds of drums and brass rhythm instruments. Although the teams all have the same instruments there are variations in what emphasis they put on the different instruments and how they perform together with the dancers. There’s even quite a few specialist teams, for example teams with many deaf dancers or teams where the youngest member has to be over 65 years of age. The more you watch Awaodori, the more you learn and the deeper you go into it.

If you are a tourist and want to see Awaodori your best bet is to visit Tokushima prefecture or Tokyo during the summer when there are at least one Awaodori dance festival or show every weekend. Or, you can always visit the Awaodori restaurant with proper shows every night, in Shinjuku. Enjoy!
















6 Responses

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  1. Hangaku Gozen said, on November 24, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Do you know how many members are in the Nagoyakaren troupe? With all those kids in addition to the adult dancers and musicians, they must number close to—50? 70?

    I love your awadori photos! I never paid a lot of attention to the festivals because they all seemed the same, but your photographs capture the individual expressions and appearance of the dancers so well. The very small children make me chuckle, since they lack any self-consciousness as they walk along the other dancers.


    • tokyobling said, on November 25, 2013 at 2:30 am

      Hi! Thanks for your kind comment! I don’t know how many members they have, but the one great thing about being a local teams somewhere, is that you get a totally different inflow of members. I know some professional teams that are really small while local teams can be huge, sometimes with over a hundred members! I I agree, the kids are great and usually some of the best crowd pleasers! (^-^)


  2. yoshizen said, on November 24, 2013 at 5:52 am

    What impressed me the most was that sheer number and the variety of the people
    this Nagoyaka-ren could mobilize ! Looks almost entire population of Nakamura-bashi was there.
    I like those tiny-tot Dramer and the Dancers. Well captured 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on November 25, 2013 at 2:32 am

      Haha… I agree! Thank you for the kind comment. And to think that this only one of the local teams of Nakamurabashi. I know of at least one more local team but I think there is at least 3 or 4 teams in the area. Maybe Nakamurabashi has the highest concentration of Awaodori dancers in the entire Honshu Island? (^-^;)


  3. Widya Suryadini said, on November 26, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Always love your pics! But some things puzzled me. It was quite a low-light environment, and I think the people were moving quite fast, and yet you can produce such crystal-clear pictures! I was wondering, would you share your secrets or tricks on getting this kind of wonderful photos? Anyway, thanks for making my day!


    • tokyobling said, on November 27, 2013 at 12:30 am

      Thank you Widya! It was very dark (actually the pictures are much brighter than reality), and people were moving. I have a lot of practice (as you can see in my blog) and a good camera with a good low light lens. But above all I can’t stand unsharp photos (a hang up from my days shooting analog film I think), so I throw away about 90% of the photos I take. What I blog is the best of the ones I took! (^-^)

      But there is one simple trick to get sharper photos of moving targets, and that is to follow the target with the camera as you shoot. Other simple stuff is to never use a shutter speed that is slower than the focal length of the lens. For example, if you are shooting with a 50mm lens your slowest shutter speed should be 1/60, if that is still too dark raise the ISO and/or lower the f-stop. Or, you can use a flash, which I never do because introducing a flash into the equation just makes everything too complicated for the kind of photography I do on these festivals.


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