Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival) & Yosakoi Matsuri (Yosakoi Festival)

Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival)

“Eraiyatcha, eraiyatcha, yoi yoi yoi yoi. Odoru aho ni miru aho. Onaji aho nara odoranya son, son!” (Eraiyatcha, eraiyatcha, yoi yoi yoi yoi. Dancing fools and watching fools. Both are the same fools, so why not dance?!) This is a traditional phrase chanted in Japan and it is what Awa Odori is all about: it is more fun to join and dance than to watch! The dancers form teams called “Ren” for Awa Odori, originated in Tokushima Prefecture, and the teams compete for the dance performance with each other. Anyone can go crazy dancing to the rhythm of two beats accompanied by the samisen, the drums, the bells and the flutes. There are two dancing styles for Awa Odori: Otoko-odori (male dancing) which is dynamic and funny and Onna-odori (female dancing) which is sultry and elegant. You will bubble with the delight which comes from the bottom of your heart. Tokushima gets very lively during the festival season.

Visitors who want to take part in Awa Odori at its home, Tokushima, can join the “Niwaka Ren” (drop-in team) and dance freely without any advanced application or fee. Don’t worry if you do not know anything about Awa Odori. You can have a lesson from the experts before going to the venue. Anyone can join lightheartedly wearing whatever. It is guaranteed that you make pleasant memories. This popular Awa Odori has been spread across Japan and the festivals are held here and there in the hot summer. If you are not able to make it during the festival days, visit Awaodori Hall in Tokushima City. You can see the true Awa Odori performances there.


Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival)
 (Tokushima City, Tokushima August 12 – August 15)
Access: Right outside JR Tokushima Station (7 venues in the city)
Contact information: Tokushima City Tourism Association Phone 088-622-4010
Web: (Japanese)

“Niwaka Ren”
Welcomes everyone to join and dance
Schedule: August 12 – 15 in 2010, 6:30 p.m. – , 8:30 p.m.-
Meeting point: Shimin Hiroba (Civic Square) in front of Tokushima City Hall and near the beginning of the Higashishinmachi Shopping Arcade, Shinmachibashi-dori Street
Contact information: 088-622-4010 (Tokushima City Tourism Association)

Awaodori Hall:
2-20, Shinmachibashi, Tokushima-city Phone : 088-611-1611
Web: (Japanese)

Other Awa Odori dance festivals held in Japan
Tokyo Koen-ji Awa Odori (Suginami-ku, Tokyo August 27 – August 28 : 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Right outside JR Koen-ji Station)
Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori (Koshigaya City, Saitama August 20 – August 21 Near Minami-Koshigaya Station and Shin-Koshigaya Station)
Web: (Japanese)

Yosakoi Matsuri (Yosakoi Festival)

Yosakoi Matsuri was started in Tosa, Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku in rivalry with the popular Awa Odori. There is a folk song in Tosa whose phrase is “Tosa no Kochi no Harimaya-bashi de, bo-san kanzashi kau wo mita. Yosakoi, Yosakoi.” (At the Harimaya Bridge in Tosa in Kochi, I saw a monk buying a hair ornament. Yosakoi, Yosakoi.) In old times in Japan, Buddhist monks were not allowed to have an interest in women. The song is about a monk who was buying a hair accessory for his girlfriend. What “Yosakoi” means is “come at night.” It is said this song was very popular in Kochi. Yosakoi Matsuri was started in connection with this folk song. It is a very modern festival like Rio Carnival. Today, Yosakoi Matsuri is a lively festival with many young participants dancing to the arranged modern music like rock, samba, hip-hop and enka (Japanese ballad).

Each dancing team has its own costume, and it is enjoyable just to look at them. People form dancing teams with their friends at the company, neighborhood, school and the like across Japan. The teams are formed a few months prior to the festival recruiting dancers. Wishing to be way ahead of other teams, the dancers use their creativity in making their costumes and choreographing their dance and practice repeatedly every day for the festival.


Yosakoi Matsuri (Yosakoi Festival)
(Kochi City, Kochi August 9 – August 12)

Access: Right outside JR Kochi Station (Chuo-koen park, Kochi Castle and several other venues in the city)

Other Yosakoi Matsuri
「Yosakoi Soran Festival」 (Sapporo City, Hokkaido June 8 – June 12)
Web: (Japanese)

The Three Great Festivals of Tohoku will be there this year!

Tohoku is buckling down together.

Masafumi Shoji, Executive Committee Chairman, Sendai Tanabata Matsuri Co-sponsors Association

The Three Great Festivals of Tohoku are “Sendai Tanabata Matsuri” (Sendai Tanabata Festival), “Aomori Nebuta Matsuri” (Aomori Nebuta Festival) and “Akita Kanto Matsuri” (Akita Kanto Festival). And they all will be held this year. Tohoku is now enthusiastic about preparing for the festivals. “Sendai Tanabata Matsuri” is originally a festival to make a wish upon stars. This year, we will hold the festival to wish the recovery of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture and the entire Tohoku region with the theme of “Recovery and Repose of the Souls.” We would like to welcome many people to see the Tanabata decorations that show the spirit of Sendai merchants and the vigorous faces of us who have taken a step towards the recovery. This summer, please come to “Sendai Tanabata Matsuri” with your friends.

Sendai Tanabata Festival (Sendai City, Miyagi August 6 – August 8) Right outside JR Tohoku Shinkansen Sendai Station

Aomori Nebuta Festival (Aomori City, Aomori August 2 – August 7)
Access: Right outside JR Tohoku Shinkansen Aomori Station

Akita Kanto Festival (Akita City, Akita August 3 – August 6)
Access: Right outside JR Ou Main Line (Akita Shinkansen) Akita Station South Exit