Miyoshi City

Ikeda Awa Odori Dance Festival

Tokushima prefecture explodes with life during this high-energy festival--the largest dance festival in Japan! Have you ever experienced Awa Odori? ♪
It’s been three years, but finally the festival is back! Although the largest venue of Awa Odori is located in Tokushima city, many other areas in the prefecture also hold their own community festivals. The smaller scale festival in Ikeda, Miyoshi, was held from August 13 to 14, with huge street and stage performances, and of course, food stalls and activities for visitors to enjoy. No matter where, the atmosphere and energy of Awa Odori will sweep you away!
So, what’s Awa Odori all about? The festival is composed of dance groups called “ren” who prepare and perfect their dances all year round. The groups work hard to preserve the traditional soul of Awa Odori, which has endured for over 400 years, and millions of people visit Tokushima each year to see the rens lined up and dancing through the streets. Awa Odori is part of what’s called Bon Odori; during August every year, Bon dances are performed across Japan to honour one’s ancestors, and although the event has become a part of Japanese culture, it is rooted in the Buddhist belief that the spirits of deceased loved ones return to the earth for an annual visit. Bon dances serve to welcome these spirits, and raise the spirits of the living, too. Historically, it’s said that even samurai danced in equality alongside commoners, with everyone dancing like “fools” and simply enjoying themselves. 
From the perspective of a foreigner living in Japan (like myself), the tradition of Awa Odori possesses a wild and elegant beauty, and merely witnessing it is spellbinding. The haunting harmonies of the flutes and bell, the rhythm of the shamisen strings and the pounding of the taiko drums. As the music suffuses the air, you can feel its powerful energy down to your bones. The spirit of Tokushima’s people amazes me anew each year. 
After three dormant years, Awa Odori’s revival reminded me how the festival itself serves to lift the people’s spirits, and how important it is to continue traditions.
There are many other attractive experience activities in Awa! Click here to make a reservation
August 2022 | Ikeda, Miyoshi, Tokushima