I went to Koenji Festival!
It was so excited!
Today, I tell you how was this festival!
What is Koenji Awaodori?The Koenji Awa Odori is a major Awa dance festival held every year in Koenji, located in the Suginami Ward of Tokyo.
The festival started in 1957 and has since grown into a massive event,
attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. In particular,
the festival is a wonderful community event,
organized in collaboration with the local shopping district in Koenji.
Awa Odori itself originates from Tokushima Prefecture and has a history spanning over 400 years.
However, the Koenji Awa Odori has its own unique style and charm, captivating many people who come to experience it.
The atmosphere in Koenji on the festival day
Even though the festival was set to start at 5 PM, people were staking out spots from early in the morning, and the best viewing areas filled up quickly. The area around the station was also packed with people.
There were paid seats available, but they were expensive and often sold out quickly. However, you didn't need a paid seat to enjoy the Awa Odori; you could experience it all over town.
A little off the main parade route, Koenji has a shopping district. Normally, there are restaurants open, but during the festival, many of these establishments set up street stalls.
Festival food was easy to find—things like yakisoba, takoyaki, and frankfurters were available, and some shops even offered their regular menu items as street food.
The prices were affordable and very reasonable. Plus, the food tasted just like it does in the shops, so it's definitely better to buy from the local shopping district.
The Dancing Scene and "連(Ren)"
Along the streets of Koenji, dancers form groups called "Rens" and each group showcases their own dance style as they move along the road in a loop.
A "Ren" is a group organized for the purpose of performing Awa Odori. Generally, there are different types of Rens such as "Local Rens," "Student Rens," and "Corporate Rens." Local residents mainly form the "Local Rens," students make up the "Student Rens," and companies sponsor the "Corporate Rens." Each Ren has its own unique costumes, instruments, and choreography to entertain the audience.
The dancers maintain a half-crouched posture even after they finish dancing, which makes it look like they're having a lot of fun while dancing but appear extremely tired afterward.
Given that they dance non-stop for about three hours, it's no surprise they're exhausted. However, the sheer intensity and the unified feel of the dance make it evident that they've practiced a lot.
Three Awa Odori Festivals in Japan
The Koenji Awa Odori in Tokyo is so big and popular that it's known as one of Japan's "Big Three Awa Odori Festivals." The trio includes the "Tokushima City Awa Odori," "Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori," and the "Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori."
The Tokushima City Awa Odori is the birthplace of Awa Odori and has the most history and tradition. Held every August in Tokushima City,
it draws hundreds of thousands of tourists. With a history spanning over 400 years,
it's even designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property by the Japanese government.
Men and women dance in distinct styles: men with powerful movements and women gracefully.
The festival's scale and diversity are overwhelming, thanks in part to the many "Rens" or dance groups that participate,
not just from the local area but from all over Japan.
Both the Koenji and Tokushima City Awa Odori have their own unique styles and features,
but they both play a role in spreading the tradition and allure of Awa Odori.
In Koenji, the festival is a fantastic community event, organized in collaboration with the local shopping district.
On the other hand, the Tokushima City Awa Odori is like the mecca of Awa Odori, given its history and scale.
If you're interested, it might be fun to look it up and consider a trip to Japan to experience it!
The Koenji Awa Odori is a fantastic event where you can feel the richness of Japanese tradition, culture,
and community cohesion. Many dance groups, or "Rens," participate, each bringing their own unique charm to the table.
Strolling through the streets while enjoying street food and drinks is also a fun way to take in the festival.
Above all, the atmosphere is something you won't forget once you've experienced it.
It's especially perfect for those who want to enjoy Japanese culture and festivals.
If you're thinking about coming to Japan, definitely consider experiencing the Koenji Awa Odori and immerse yourself in the wonderful culture of Japan.