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Awa Odori Festival, a Seasonal Delight of Tokushima with the Entire City Resounding with Festival Music and Dance.

Posted By on Aug 20, 2013


Summertime in Japan means one thing- Matsuri (祭り)!

Matsuri can take place all year round, but some of the largest and most lively matsuri seem to take place during the warm months of summer. One of the most famous of these events is Tokushima City’s Awa Odori, which just came to an end a few days ago.

Held every year from August 12th – 15th, this festival is part of the Obon ritual to welcome the dead. Dating back 400 years, this popular festival attracts nearly 1.5 million visitors each year.


The main event of the festival is the lively dancing that takes place all 4 days.

Women will dress in their colorful cotton yukata and straw hats, while the men dress in shorter happi. The groups of dancers, called ren, then proceed through the streets to the beat of traditional musical instruments, such as shamisen, drums and flutes.

Along with all of the dancing, typical matsuri food and game stalls are also set up around the city.


Events take place during the day, although the main spectacle takes place at night. The entire city center is blocked off to become one large dance stage for some of the most exciting dancing yet.

There are different areas showcasing different professional dancers, some of which require paid admission.

If you would like to attend the Awa Odori, make sure to plan far in advanced as hotels fill up very early for this large event.


If you missed the Awa Odori this past week, don’t worry! Many of the dancers from Tokushima City are planning to take their show on the road throughout the region over the next months.

Some of the dance groups will be putting on performances in Osaka later this month, with other shows scheduled in Higashinari, Nagata and more. So don’t miss your chance to see these amazing dances while you’re in Japan.

[posted by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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