Photographer's Note

Awa odori (Awa Dance) is one of the summer seasonal events in Japan. As asame as last year, I witness this energish dane. The detail explanation is as foloows from Wikipedia
The earliest origins of the dance style are found in the Japanese Buddhist priestly dances of Nembutsu-odori and hiji-odori of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), and also in kumi-odori, a lively harvest dance that was known to last for several days. The Awa Odori festival grew out of the tradition of the Bon odori which is danced as part of the Obon "Festival of the Dead", a Japanese Buddhist celebration where the spirits of deceased ancestors are said to visit their living relatives for a few days of the year. The term "Awa Odori" was not used until the 20th century, but Obon festivities in Tokushima have been famous for their size, exuberance and anarchy since the 16th century. Awa Odori's independent existence as a huge, city-wide dance party is popularly believed to have begun in 1586 when Lord Hachisuka Iemasa, the daimyo of Awa Province hosted a drunken celebration of the opening of Tokushima Castle. The locals, having consumed a great amount of sake, began to drunkenly weave and stumble back and forth. Others picked up commonly available musical instruments and began to play a simple, rhythmic song, to which the revelers invented lyrics. This version of events is supported by the lyrics of the first verse of "Awa Yoshikono Bushi", a local version of a popular folk song which praises Hachisuka Iemasa for giving the people Awa Odori and is quoted in the majority of tourist brochures and websites. However, according to local historian Miyoshi Shoichiro, this story first appeared in a Mainichi Shimbun newspaper article in 1908 and is unsupported by any concrete evidence. It is unclear whether the song lyrics were written before or after this article appeared. Some evidence of the festival's history comes from edicts issued by the Tokushima-han feudal administration, such as this one dating from 1671. 1.The bon-odori may be danced for only three days. 2. Samurai are forbidden to attend the public celebration. They may dance on their own premises but must keep the gates shut. No quarrels, arguments or other misbehaviour are allowed.
3. The dancing of bon-odori is prohibited in all temple grounds.
This suggests that by the 17th century, Awa’s bon-odori was a well established as a major event, lasting well over three days — long enough to be a major disruption to the normal functioning of the city. It implies that samurai joined the festival alongside peasants and merchants, disgracing themselves with brawling and unseemly behaviour. In 1674, it was “forbidden for dancers or spectators to carry swords (wooden or otherwise), daggers or poles”. In 1685 revelers were prohibited from dancing after midnight and dancers were not allowed to wear any head or face coverings, suggesting that there were some serious public order concerns.
In the Meiji Period (1868-1912) the festival died down as the Tokushima's indigo trade, which had financed the festival, collapsed due to imports of cheaper chemical dyes. The festival was revitalised at the start of the Showa Period (1926) when Tokushima Prefectural authorities first coined the name ‘Awa Odori’ and promoted it as the region’s leading tourist attraction. During the daytime a restrained dance called Nagashi is performed, but at night the dancers switch to a frenzied dance called Zomeki. As suggested by the lyrics of the chance, spectators are often encouraged to join the dance.
Men and women dance in different styles. For the men’s dance: right foot and right arm forward, touch the ground with toes, then step with right foot crossing over left leg. This is then repeated with the left leg and arm. Whilst doing this, the hands draw triangles in the air with a flick of the wrists, starting at different points. Men dance in a low crouch with knees pointing outwards and arms held above the shoulders.
The women's dance uses the same basic steps, although the posture is quite different. The restrictive kimono allows only the smallest of steps forward but a crisp kick behind, and the hand gestures are more restrained and graceful, reaching up towards the sky. Women usually dance in tight formation, poised on the ends of their geta sandals.
Children and adolescents of both sexes usually dance the men's dance. In recent years, it has become more common to see adult women, especially those in their 20's, dancing the men's style of dance.
Some of the larger ren (dance groups) also have a tako odori, or kite dance. This usually involves one brightly dressed, acrobatic dancer, darting backwards and forwards, turning cartwheels and somersaults, with freestyle choreography. In some versions, other male dancers crouch down forming a sinuous line representing the string, and a man at the other end mimes controlling the kite.

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Additional Photos by Takero KAWABATA (bukitgolfb301) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2320 W: 0 N: 4633] (54014)
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