TAKARABUNE - Japan Expo 18e Impact
During the O-Bon season – Buddhist celebration honoring the ancestors’ spirits –, the Awa Odori Festival music and dance take up the streets of Tokushima to welcome them. Awa odori holds its name from the province of Awa – a former province corresponding to a part of today’s Tokushima prefecture – but it’s also called "the fools’ dance" because of a famous chorus: "It’s a fool who dances and a fool who watches! If both are fools, you might as well have fun dancing!"
This dance probably dates back to 1587, when the feudal lord Hachisuka Iemasa offered sake to the town population to celebrate the new castle of Tokushima. It is said that they drank so much that they started dancing with an unsteady gait. Those irregular steps are typical of awa odori and make it a joyful and energic dance.
During the festival, male and female dance troupes parade along the street, dancing to the music of taiko, gongs, shamisen, and flutes. As time goes by, the whole city joins the party and spectators start dancing too.
Japan Expo has often welcomed awa odori dancers, among which Takarabune who always appeals to our attendees. Among its members are the first professional awa odori dancers in Japan. To take a look back at their performances, have a look at JapanExpoTV, our Youtube channel. You can also watch all the videos of the Sakura stage traditional shows.