One mil­lion dance lovers gather at Ja­pan’s Awa Odori fes­ti­val

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Over a mil­lion performers and spec­ta­tors are flock­ing to a western Ja­panese city this week­end for one of the country’s largest dance fes­ti­vals, af­ter or­gan­is­ers stepped up ef­forts to ac­com­mo­date for­eign vis­i­tors.

The an­nual ‘Awa Odori’, which orig­i­nates from a Ja­panese Bud­dhist cus­tom of hon­our­ing the spir­its of an­ces­tors, sees the oth­er­wise sleepy city of Tokushima turn into a stage for four days.

Groups of dancers and mu­si­cians, known as ‘ren’, pa­rade through the streets to the sound of tra­di­tional mu­sic in­stru­ments such as lutes, drums, flutes and bells.

Sport­ing Ja­panese ki­mono cos­tumes with hair bands or straw hats, they chant in cho­rus and dance in syn­chro­nised chore­og­ra­phy.

The num­ber of par­tic­i­pants, in­clud­ing performers, is ex­pected to hit the same num­ber as last year, when 1.2mn took part in the cen­turies-old car­ni­val.

“You need prac­tice when you do other Ja­panese tra­di­tional per­form­ing arts, but any­one can en­joy Awa Odori... only by rais­ing hands and tak­ing steps to the

rhythm,” said 32 year old dancer Masayuki Tatekawa.

Kenji Ki­ta­mura, an or­gan­iser, added, “This is a dance fes­ti­val wel­com­ing ev­ery­body as they can watch, sing, dance. This year we are es­pe­cially putting the em-

pha­sis on for­eign vis­i­tors as the num­ber of tourists from other coun­tries to Ja­pan is in­creas­ing.”

He added that this year there are English signs and tem­po­rary western-style toilets.

(AFP)

Performers dance in the street dur­ing the Awa Odori fes­ti­val, in Tokushima on Satur­day

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