During this energetic summer folk dance festival in Tokushima, the entire city reverberates to the sound of music and dance.

Awa is the former name of Tokushima, and odori means ‘dance’ or ‘dancing’ in Japanese. The Awa-Odori is characterized by its irregular steps and energetic, upbeat rhythm. Its origins date back to 1587, when the local feudal lord offered sake to the people of the castle town in celebration of the newly-built Tokushima Castle; the citizens became so drunk that they started to dance with an unsteady gait.

During the festival, groups of dancers parade through the city while dancing to music played on instruments such as drums, gongs, flutes and Japanese stringed instruments. In the daytime, you can watch graceful official performances of Awa-Odori onstage by selected groups of several dozen dancers.

At night, the excitement in the town reaches fever-pitch, as more and more people join in the dancing in various parts of the city, from official dance stages where you can watch the dance up close, to  parks and plazas in the city centre and even the roads between the dance stages.

In some locations, even spectators can join in the dancing - this is in keeping with the spirit of the festival, as the chanting accompanying the dance means, ‘It’s a fool who dances and a fool who watches! If both are fools, you might as well have fun dancing!’


August 12th-15th

Dates and functions are subject to change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information in advance.