Tokyobling's Blog

NTT Denwaren – Koenji Awaodori Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on December 30, 2013

Winter is tough for us fans of the traditional folk dance Awaodori, originally from Tokushima but now popular all over the country. It is a summer activity which means that I have spend the rest of the year going over old photos and relying on Youtube to give me that Awaodori fix! All kinds of people do Awodori. There are local teams formed up to promote a local shopping street, or to just help neighbors bond. There are also local teams associated with the big famous Tokushima teams that seem to be only in it for the love of the dance. In almost every festival there are also teams for people with special abilities, like the silver team for people over 65, or teams for deaf dancers, downs syndrome teams, and many others. Some teams are famous and attract fans from all over the region, while others are more obscure, but you wouldn’t easily be able to tell the famous teams from the minor teams, as once they are in the festival they are all celebrated by the crowds. There are also purely corporate teams, like the one in these pictures, the NTT Denwaren (NTTでんわ連), which is set up by employees of one of the national telephone companies (the biggest one in Japan I think). They have about 100 members and were great fun in this year’s massive Koenji Awaodori festival, with over 20 000 dancers and about a million visitors.

You can tell by the photos how hot it was on this year’s festival, the sweat was pouring down their faces! It takes marathon levels of stamina to keep up this sort of dance for two hours straight with almost no breaks. Even the musicians must be exhausted afterwards, I have seen very big fit strong men almost collapsing after the festival after carrying the massive drums, and flutists tend to be pretty exhausted as well. The dancing men and women usually tell of very sore leg muscles! It is unbelievable that there are members performing between the ages of 3 and 99!

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