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Dancers, dancing in unison,  pass by bleachers where the crowds cheer them on.
Dancers, performing in the Awa Odori, pass by bleachers where the crowds cheer them on.
Photo from Tokushima Prefecture Sightseeing Assoc. Website.
Awa Dance Festival (Tokushima City, Tokushima)
Summer means all of Japan is preparing music and festivities to celebrate the Bon Festival. Tokushima is especially famous for its unique Awa Odori. Even people who have never actually seen the Awa Dance festival know the saying “Odoru aho ni miru aho; onaji aho nara odoranya son son!” (It's a fool who dances and a fool who watches; if both are fools, you might as well dance!). In groups called ren, teams proceed together in long lines. Each group is made up of dancers and musicians. The spectacle of brilliant waves of dancers moving to the sound of flutes, the stringed instrument known as the shamisen, and the taiko and odaiko (great drums) is the exciting highlight of the festival. Awa Odori is an art form native to Tokushima, but there are Awa fans throughout Japan, and many areas have established Awa rens and hold their own Awa dance events.
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