Shimokitazawa Awa Odori Festival

Shimokitazawa Awa Odori Festival

One of the main things I’ve come to love about living in Tokyo is the plethora of traditional festivals which take place in the streets of local neighbourhood throughout the year. The summer months are particularly active and back in August during the Obon festival (お盆) I attended the wonderful Awa Odori (阿波踊り) dance festival held in Shimokitazawa (下北沢).

Awa is the old feudal name for Tokushima prefecture, where the festival originates, and odori means dance. It’s a colourful affair where troupes of choreographed dancers and musicians known as ren (連) dance through the streets, accompanied by the shamisen (三味線) lute, taiko (太鼓) drums, shinobue (篠笛) flute and the kane (鉦) bell.

Performers of all ages wear traditional obon dance costumes, and chant and sing as they parade through the streets. Men and women usually dance in different styles, with many ladies donning traditional Amigasa (編み笠) hats made from woven rice straw shaped like a folded circular disc or a half-moon.

Although the festival dates back to the 15th Century, it’s only being going in Shimokitazawa since 1966.

It’s well worth following Tokyobling for information and gorgeous photos of past and upcoming festivals in Tokyo.

Murakami’s Tokyo: Part 1 — Beginnings

Murakami's Tokyo Part 1

Even at a time like this, the street is bright enough and filled with people coming and going—people with places to go and people with no place to go; people with a purpose and people with no purpose; people trying to hold time back and people trying to urge it forward.

After Dark

Haruki Murakami is often described as one of the world’s greatest living novelists and has been compared with the likes of J.D. Salinger (he even translated The Catcher in the Rye into Japanese). His depictions of the loneliness and isolation of modern Japanese life ingratiated him with the country’s youth who often struggle to assert their individuality in the face of societal notions of conformity. Read more

Fast Track Permanent Residency in Japan

It’s a long-known fact that Japan is facing acute population decline which could devastate the country’s economy. A report commissioned by the government in 2012 stated that, without policy change, by 2110 the number of Japanese could fall to 42m, i.e. just a third of its current population. Read more

Nara Day Trip

Nara Stone Lantern

Although only 45 mins away from Kyoto by train, Nara (奈良市) is often overlooked by time-pressed travellers but, as Japan’s first permanent capital with over 1300 years of history, it’s worth the short diversion. After a chilly trip to Kyoto back in March I spent half a day exploring it on foot. Read more

Inbetween The Lines

JR-Metro Maps Overlayed

Since beginning a full-time job in Tokyo I’ve been taking the train to work, and everyday it leaves me with the weirdest feeling of having just passed through the bowels of some otherworldly monster. Read more