Great Festivals of Japan: Awa Odori
Step outside the glass doors of Tokushima Station on any day of the year, and you may not be overwhelmed by what you see. Buses pull in and out of the station trading commuters on their way to work, a small shopping arcade looms ahead with only a smattering of retired ladies and truant students meandering about its wares, and a great bank of vacant taxis sits and waits for a rush of traffic that will likely never come. It is, after all, the capital of what some consider to be Japan’s most rural prefecture.
Step outside these doors between the 12th and 15th of August, however, and you’ll be in for something wholly different. Suddenly the station area has become a smorgasbord of noise and color. Packs of women dressed in beautiful kimono smile as they pass you, their wooden geta clopping pleasantly on the pavement. They know the secret. Distant taiko drums shake you and mark out the beat of your own footsteps as the bright yellow taxis now whiz by. Already you can hear the singing: “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!