Awaodori is the traditional dance of Tokushima with a history that spans over 400 years. Today, Awaodori is enjoyed throughout Japan with local festivals adopting the name and preserving the culture.
There are two main types of dance - the "men's dance" (which many females participate in too) that is deeply bent at the waist and low to the ground, and then, the "ladies dance" which is done on raised geta sandals wearing braided hats. Fundamentally, the dance is simple, you only need to raise your hands and lead with the same hand and foot as you move forward. Despite its simple nature, teams, known as "ren" create and develop their own unique performances. One aspect of Awaodori's charm is the rich variety and dazzling performances that have grown from this simple dance.
Tokyo's Koenji Awaodori first began in 1957 as a festival to revitalize the small shopping streets throughout the town. Over the years the festival has grown and now over 10,000 dancers and over a 1,000,000 spectators come making it the festival that represents the charms of Tokyo's summer. The Koenji Awaodori is held every year on the last weekend of August.
Additionally, the Awaodori teams within Koenji (members of the Koenji Awaodori Group) conduct media appearances, participate in a variety of events, foreign relations parties, and more keeping the joy of the Awaodori season year-round.
Through these efforts, the tradition born in Tokushima has grown to represent the culture progression of Japan. We of the Tokyo Koenji Awaodori will be a tool that not only represents the pride of people, local and regional, but also one that connects regions, connects peoples, and fosters and nurtures bonds that go beyond country. We will bear this responsibility with great care.
Surrounding the JR Koenji station and the Metro Shin Koenji station 8 dance areas erupt in unison.
Flutes, shamisen, chimes, large and small taiko fill the air with enchanting rhythms as the charm of Awaodori consumes the town of Koenji.
Moved by the roar of the passionate crowds, over 10,000 dancers will flow through the town of Koenji across the 8 routes that form the shape of a giant “8”.
- ・Follow the instructions of staff and security personnel at all times.
- ・Smoking is prohibited at the Koenji Awaodori and the local area. Please use the designated smoking areas located around the festival.
- ・Please enjoy the festival without inhibiting the local stores and their ability to conduct business.
- ・Placing plastic sheets or other items to secure space on the road is prohibited.
- ・During the festival, do not enter the dance areas.
- ・Please take all garbage with you - a clean festival is everyone's responsibility.
The Early Period: early 1960ies
To revitalize the local town, in 1957 the first Koenji Awaodori was held. However, shortly after, the festival faced and survived numerous crisis.
Developmental Period: the 1970ies
Initially, the festival was only held within the local shopping street, however, it quickly grew and encompassed more local shopping districts. By the 1960ies, the course grew to the Koenji station north exit and then, by 1969, with the completion of the Koenji station the festival grew into the larger roads surrounding it. This moved the festival beyond the small streets it was born in, and out into the wide roads of the town - not only was the festival larger, but so too did the performances grow, and with this, so too did Koenji's ability to attract more fans from the neighboring communities.
At the same time, many new Awaodori teams were established and within Tokyo many new Awaodori festivals emerged. Our Koenji Awaodori teams participated in these new festivals too and the culture grew. At the same time, new technologies allowed for better communication with Tokushima resulting in Awaodori teams fostering new relationships and often becoming respected peers who shared techniques.
Fulfilling Period: the 1990ies
In 1991 the IAAF World Championships in Athletics was help in Tokyo and over 300 Koenji Awaodori dancers performed and their performance was broadcasted throughout the world. Additionally, through Awaodori, new opportunities for cultural exchange, education, and ambassadorial activities became frequent and the charm of the regional culture grew.
With Awaodori, through TV and other media, opportunities for culture continue to grow year by year.
Each year in January, at Tokyo Dome, over 250 Koenji Awaodori performers participate in the Hometown Festival Tokyo and opportunities to participate in large scale events continues to grow.
In 2013, the Koenji Awaodori Group was asked by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to join the Lunar New Year International Parade.
In 2014, the Koenji Awaodori Group was asked by the Macau Government Tourism Office to join the Lunar New Year Parade.
In 2015, to commemorate the conclusion of the cultural agreement between Suginami Ward and the Taiwan National Drama Academy, Awaodori performances were held in Taipei.