The origins of the lively traditional dances performed at Japan’s summer festivals are murky at best, and the unique styles have evolved over the years from town to town. From Bon odori to Awa odori to Yosakoi to Tottori umbrella dancing, several unique versions will be on display throughout Tokyo this week.
Just about the biggest party in Tokyo, Koenji’s annual street dance festival (August 24–25) crams the Koenji neighborhood to capacity for a weekend of raucous revelry. Around 10,000 Awa dancers and countless more members of the public descend upon the neighborhood to take in the parades that snake through nine different routes along the narrow, atmospheric streets.
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Although only started in 2001, Harajuku Omotesando Super Yosakoi Festival has become one of Tokyo’s most spectacular dance festivals, in which more than 80,000 people gather to watch as 106 regional teams parade, perform and compete around the streets and stages of Omotesando and Harajuku. Yosakoi is a modern version of traditional Japanese dances, and was first invented in the city of Kochi in 1954. Since then, the style has gained popularity, with teams wearing original costumes influenced by their local culture and inspired by modern trends.
Celebrating one year to go until the start of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., is hosting a high-tech, interactive summer festival. Experience the Paralympic sports in various ways, including full-scale competitive events such a wheelchair basketball game, demonstrations by a para-athletes and a sky lantern launch carrying a special message. There will also be several gourmet food trucks offering dishes made from market-fresh seafood and produce directly from Toyosu Market.
This traditional Japanese summer festival blends perfectly with its neighborhood’s cool and stylish atmosphere. Well-known for its delicious edible offerings, Azabu-Juban’s summer festival is known as Noryo Matsuri. “Noryo” can be roughly translated as “a cool summer night,” which is probably not the case in the peak of August heat, but at least there will be plenty of refreshments and shaved ice on hand.
Experience the best of Japan’s summer traditions and innovation in one place at Happo-en. For two nights, watch a variety of dance performances by dance groups from across Japan, including Awa dancers from Koenji, kasa-odori (umbrella dance) performers from Tottori, Okinawan dancers performing the local traditional dance called Eisa, festival drumming and much more.
Bon Odori Festival is one of Tokyo’s most popular summer festivals, drawing thousands of yukata-clad visitors to Roppongi Hills Arena for a weekend of food and dance. This matsuri is unusual for its indoor venue, featuring a big wooden stage called yagura, around which visitors can freely join the dynamic crowd of dancers.