The odori 「踊り traditional Japanese dance」 is a very unique dance. Hundreds of dancers moving in unison. Traditional headwear and yukata are worn. Arms flail and hands twist. Legs bounce sharply up and down in precise movements. Men and women sing the traditional Awa Odori folk song.

Dancers Preparing for Awa Odori

Dancers preparing at Awa Odori, Tokushima, Shikoku
DMC-LX3 (5.1mm, f/2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO80)
Dancers preparing at Awa Odori, Tokushima, Shikoku

The main chorus of the song explains the meaning behind the dance:

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?!

From the Japan National Tourism Organization

The high pitched, almost squeal-like, voice of the women combined with the deep rumbling of the men make for an awesome atmosphere. Dancers proceed in groups through several stage areas. Each group is led by a man holding a banner with the name of their neigbourhood and followed by rows of musicians playing pipes and drums.

This festival is one level above amazing.

The city of Tokushima, where the festival is held every year, has a population of about 250,000 people. Over 4 days of the festival, 1 million people flow through the city. Considering the vast number of people, in the usual Japanese respectfulness, it doesn’t actually feel that busy.

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View this location – Map coordinates: 34.069871,134.544816.

Read, see and watch a whole lot more about Awa Adori in Tokushima.