The 2009 Awa Odori Festival!
This 2009 Awa Odori was one of the best in my many years in Japan, because my good friend Nawang and his friend Rigo came to Japan to take part in the festival! During their 2-weeks in Japan I experienced many new things myself, so I plan to write a few blogs detailing some of the many highlights of our time together. After spending a couple nights in Osaka, Nawang, Rigo and I headed back to Tokushima where I introduced them to the largest 4-night summer dance party in the world, known as the Awa Odori Festival. As I have in the past, we danced the first night of the festival with the Tokushima International Association (T.I.A.), a fun international dance group. Unlike many professional groups that practice months prior to the festival, T.I.A. is called a niwaka-ren, meaning a group that just goes out and wings-it. After a reception party with food and dollar beers, we practiced and took their new, and in my case polished dance skills to the big stage! The second night of the festival, I arranged tickets to watch the show from the stands to get a different perspective as spectators of the dancing. The third night of the festival we danced with the Asahi Beer group. Unlike with T.I.A., where foreigners are given a lot of rope to be funny and are expected to act like “dancing fools” for the amusement of the crowds – Asahi Beer is a proud group, comprised of almost all Japanese members, including the celebrity Asahi campaign model, Koboyashi Yumi. Being introduced to the group for the first time by my student Toru, the pressure was on all of us to dance to the best of our abilities. With T.I.A., we wore the traditional “happi” coat and headband, however, with the Asahi Beer group we were required to wear the white shorts, plus the “tabi” socks as well. In full traditional Awa Odori gear, we danced into the night with as much grace as 3-guys filled with Asahi Beer, wearing tight shorts and uncomfortable rock magnet socks could have mustered… All kidding aside, a BIG THANK-YOU to Toru, his wife and sister for the wonderful experience!
Nawang, Toru, his sister, wife, and Rigo