The end of August in Japan also brings the end of summer. This month I’ve been posting far less regularly than I usually do. I’ve been travelling so much, but have finally settled down to start posting about travel in Shikoku, Okayama, Kyoto and more.

Earlier this month was the Awa Odori Festival in Shikoku (the smallest of the 4 main islands of Japan). It is a dancing festival held during the Obon Festival (a few days where Japanese honour the dead) and it is Japan’s largest dancing festival. It was so hard to choose just one photo, so from our front row seats at the main stage, here are the two Japan Photos of the Month for August 2011.

Awa Odori dancers in Tokushima
The dancers perform in groups. At this main stage, they dance past judges as part of a festival competition.

Each group typically has a banner man at the front (with some sort of flag or symbol), followed by a group of dancers (doing all kinds of dance) and then a group of musicians. The whole thing is very lively, the dance is energetic, everyone is chanting and the rhythmic music is very catchy.

A formation of dancers in traditional dance at Awa Odori dancers in Tokushima
Iconic of this festival are the woman dancers in traditional Obon dance costume.

If you like these photos, take a look at the full Awa Odori in Tokushima article for lots of pictures and a HD video from this awesome festival.

We went for just one day on a bus tour, however the festival last for 4 days. I took off from the main stage for about half an hour, and there was dancing happening everywhere, in the streets and at other smaller stages. There are a huge amount of food and festival stalls, all situated along the river. Next year I am going to go for a few days and explore Tokushima and Shikoku some more!