The purpose of our visit to Tokushima (徳島) was the Awa Odori Festival (阿波おどり). Awa is the historical name of the province that is now Tokushima Prefecture and odori means dance. The Awa Odori Festival got its start in the late 1500s, when the guests at a party held by the feudal lord to celebrate the completion of his Tokushima castle got so drunk they began to dance about all over the place and it became an annual event.
The festival held over obon, a major holiday (think Christmas) in Japan to honor the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. Awa Odori attracts 100,000 dancers and 1.4 million visitors over 4 days. At night, the city is filled with dancers and festival music. The last day is supposed to be the best, unfortunately we were only able to attend the first 2 days.
Dance groups (ren) perform on the streets of central Tokushima and at a handful of paid grandstands. Men and women dance in different styles. A dance group usually consists of a female group, a male group – although the male group is co-ed, and musicans (drums, flutes, samisen, gongs).
Last year, we has a great time at the Nebuta Festival in Aomori. The Awaodori Festival is another festival we definitely want to enjoy again – it was a great time.