Learn about Awa-dance, one of the most popular festivals of dance in Japan!

Have you ever heard the word “Awa-dance”? If you are interested in Japanese culture, especially some events or festivals in Japan, you must know it. Awa-dance means a lot for me because I grew up in the city where Awa-dance started and developed. I’m one of the big fans of Awa-dance and you will be a big fan of Awa-dance too after reading this article to the end!

What is Awa Dance?

When we talk about Awa-dance, it contains two meanings; the meaning as a traditional dance born in Tokushima and the one as a festival held in Tokushima. As a dance, it’s a very traditional dance in Tokushima and most Japanese people believe that everyone in Tokushima can perform Awa-dance (actually not). The main festival is held in summer every year in Tokushima and more than two million people come to see Awa-dance every year! (Whole population in Tokushima is about 700 thousand, so that is so surprising!)

When did it begin?

The history of Awa dance started around 400 years ago. The theory of its origin is controversial, however, it is proven that civil people in Tokushima stated dancing for celebrating their daimyo (feudal lord) and it gradually spread and became an important local culture.

Who Dances?

The answer for this question is everyone, but there are actually some professional people of Awa-dance. Awa-dance is consist of several groups called “ren” and the group includes a wide range of people such as students, young adults and senior people.

How Does It Attract People? ~Dancing fool, watching fool: all fools, so let’s all dance!?~

The attraction of Awa-dance is the sense of unity that you might feel through joining to Awa-dance! During Awa-dance, you might hear strange Japanese shout many times. That means “Dancing fool, watching fool: all fools, so let’s all dance”.

This spirit represents how much excitements everyone can share together through Awa-dance. It is time to stop talking about the attractions of Awa-dance and watch these two videos below. The first one shows you how Awa-dance was held last year in Tokushima and the other one shows you a new style of Awa-dance performed by Takarabune, a professional Awa-dance group. I love both traditional and new.

How were those videos and my introductions? Awa-dance should be known by more and more people overseas because this is the event through which we can communicate non-verbally. It is so unfortunate that Awa-dance this year will not be held because of covid-19, but after we get over this situation, I hope to see more people coming to feel Awa-dance in Tokushima!

Author: Taiga Matsusaka

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