Japanese Awa Odori processions will come to Paris on May 24, 2015, bringing with them a multitude of Japanese dancers and drummers.
The festival originates from Tokushima City’s Awa Odori (阿波おどり), which is the most famous of many dance festivals held across Japan during the Obon season in mid August. Awa is the former name for Tokushima Prefecture while Odori means dance.
Between August 12th and 15th, spectators and dancers come to Tokushima in the thousands to see this “Fool’s Dance” whose origins date back 400 years. This nickname comes from the lyrics to a common dance song, which translates as follows: “Fools dance and fools watch, if both are fools, you might as well dance”.
Although some events happen during the daytime, the main spectacle takes place between 18:00 and 22:30, when groups of dancers called “ren” perform in blocked off streets of downtown Tokushima. Ranging from amateurs assembled just days before the event, to veterans who practice year round, the ren come from Tokushima, other parts of Japan and as far away as the United States.
The groups dance through designated spectator areas (enbujo) in a procession, playing traditional musical instruments as they go. Though the dance steps are simple, ren distinguish themselves with difficult variations and colorful uniforms. Women wear cotton robes called yukata, while men wear happi (shorter yukata over shorts or pants). Like the dance, these standards vary from group to group.
(from Japan Guide’s page on Awa Odori)
Here’s the official trailer of the festival:
The processions are actually open for participation, and as of now, people interested in participating just need to provide an email address as well as their name on the registration page.
Japanese nationals or people living in Japan can register on a separate registration page, where they also have the opportunity to book an ANA-organized tour to Paris. This tour from Japan can be booked without the requirement of participating in the festival procession.
The Tsunagari Taiko Center in Paris is holding a preparatory Awa Odori workshop on February 7 from 15:00 to 18:00 hours in their atelier. Registrations for the workshop are open on this page. The atelier is located in 12 Rue Froment, 75011 Paris – you can also find it on our map.
The purpose of our visit to Tokushima (徳島) was the Awa Odori Festival (阿波おどり). Awa is the hiitorscal name of the province that is now Tokushima Prefecture and odori means dance. The Awa Odori Festival got its start in the late 1500s, when the guests at a party held by the feudal lord to celebrate the completion of his Tokushima castle got so drunk they began to dance about all over the place and it became an annual event.徳島には阿波踊りを見に行きました。阿波とは今の徳島県の昔の呼び名で、踊りとはダンスと言う意味です。（ははは、そりゃそうだ。）阿波踊りは1500年の終わりごろ始まって、徳島城の完成を祝う領主が行った祝いの席で、客たちが酔っ払ってあちらこちらで踊りだしそれが年中行事になりました。（じゃあ、うちはいつも年中行事をしないといけない。あと阿波踊りの発祥は諸説あってこれはそのひとつだね。）The festival held over obon, a major holiday (think Christmas) in Japan to honor the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. Awa Odori attracts 100,000 dancers and 1.4 million visitors over 4 days. At night, the city is filled with dancers and festival music. The last day is supposed to be the best, unfortunately we were only able to attend the first 2 days.お祭りはお盆の頃にあって、お盆と言うのは（まあ、クリスマスみたいなもん。ってそれはちょっと違うよねー。）日本では祖先の霊を祭る祝日です。阿波踊りには4日間にわたって10万の踊り子と140万の観光客でにぎわいます。夜には街は踊り子と音楽で溢れます。最後の日が一番盛り上がるとのことですが、残念なことにわれわれは最初の２日を楽しみました。（って宿も取れなくて毎晩高松から電車で通ったのよ。）Dance groups (ren) perform on the streets of central Tokushima and at a handful of paid grandstands. Men and women dance in different styles. A dance group usually consists of a female group, a male group – although the male group is co-ed, and musicans (drums, flutes, samisen, gongs).踊り子のグループ（連）は徳島の中央の通りといくつかの有料観覧席で踊ります。男踊りと女踊りがあって、連はふつう、女連、男連、と鳴り物（太鼓、笛、三味線、鉦）で成り立ちます。Last year, we has a great time at the Nebuta Festival in Aomori. The Awaodori Festival is another festival we definitely want to enjoy again – it was a great time.去年は青森のねぶた祭りがとても楽しかった。阿波踊りはまた絶対に行きたいお祭りのひとつになりました。（うーん、次はどこのお祭りにいこうかなあ。あたしはなまはげに会いに男鹿半島にも行きたい。）（いやー、楽しかったです。阿波踊り。徳島の町の真ん中の橋の上に立って360度ぐるりと見渡すと、もうどこもかしこも踊ってます。すごいです。にわか連というのにはいって飛び入りで踊りましたがこれまた楽しかったー。すばらしい日本の一日でした。）