Just about the biggest in Tokyo, Koenji’s annual street dance festival crams the streets to capacity for an evening of revelry this weekend.
Around 12,000 Awa dancers – from 188 groups, known as ren – and countless more members of the public will descend upon the neighborhood to take in the parades which snake through nine different routes through the thin, atmospheric streets. JR Koenji station is particularly busy but even smart customers who head for Shin Koenji will head out of the subway entrance and right into the action – get there early for the best views.
In 2011, the festival, which is second only to Tokushima Awaodori in scale, was held in the afternoon due to ongoing fears about electricity supply. This year, though those issues have not been 100% resolved, sees a return to the more familiar after-dark early evening slot on both Saturday and Sunday.
The origins of Awaodori (400 years ago in Tokushima, Shikoku) are unclear, but some of the moves the older guys still pull hint at some kind of alcohol having been involved… Youngsters are in on the action too, though, and the sight of many of the troupes’ multigenerational casts may just inspire you to join in.
Don’t forget to enjoy some of the famous Koenji hospitality: even the second hand clothes shops are likely to have a bucket of ice with a few beer cans for sale.
When: August 25th and August 26th, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.