徳島の阿波踊り祭り – Tokushima’s Awa Odori Festival

A Full Weekend:
Friday: Did a little shopping, but didn’t get anything.  I just walked with the guys.  Then, I got some food.  I went with the Tower Cheese Burger, fantastically awful to say the least.  This was 10 patties and 10 slices of cheese of pure heart attack packed between two buns.  I don’t know why they don’t sell this in America, as we would seem most likely to buy them.   It was like I was eating a greasy, cheesy, meat stack akin to a Campbell can on two buns. 1 pickle slice.

Then at night, it was party time.  It was a friend’s kids birthday, plus the Takamatsu Festival.  We just chilled there, amongst what seemed like all the people in the city.  We talked and watched a decent firework show.  After that we did Karaoke and that was a great time as always.  I was joining other parties that were at the joint and that was a lot of fun for all involved.  I would just talk with the strangers for a while, generally about my age, and we just chatted and laughed.  Later, we went home and then got some much desired sleep, the next day would be great as well.

We woke up and went to a festival called Awa Odori.  It is the 2nd largest dance festival in the world with over 3 million people coming over the course of 4 days.  Basically all these different groups do traditional Japanese dance: companies, schools, etc.  Right when we get there, we are approached by a film crew asking if we wanted to be in a commercial.  We were all foreigners and I guess that was the appeal, especially wearing the yukatas.  They bring us over to a set, give us canned coffee, and then have us say some chant in Japanese. then, we all shout “ENJOY!!!” and protrude the cans to the camera.  They loved it.  Hopefully I’ll be in a Japanese TV commercial now…  Pic of us below.

There was a group of dancers that was from a local university, about 30 of them. They were all chanting and clapping as people in the middle of a mosh pit/circle chugged sake.  When they couldn’t drink any more, some one else stepped up to the place.  There were about 8 liters of sake that disappeared in about 10 minutes.  It was amazing, and was legitimately impressed at the consumption rate.

Then these drunk college kids have me join them in their dance.  I am the only foreigner out there, and there are a ton of people watching me as I go down this street having no idea how to do these dances.  I was just trying to watch what they did with their hands and feet, but I sucked.  However the experience was sweet and they all wanted to high 5 and such after we were done.  I was their pet and celebrity.

After this, we watched some more and then I made my way home.  I missed the last train to get to a friend’s apartment and I was stranded.  Then, this other guy I was talking to on the train just told me to come and crash at his place with he and his wife. Awesome.  he was some Cali guy, but was currently living here with his Japanese wife trying to find a good job.  First we go to a bar, he buys me a few drinks, and we play darts.   Despite having almost no experience, I played 301 and cricket, which was a lot of fun.  I never won, since another person playing was really good.  I didn’t win, but I got about 8 bullseyes. Eventually we leave, catch a cab to his house, which he paid for, and then we slept.  We woke up early and they brought me to McDonald’s and then dropped me off at my friend’s apartment so that I could get him his key.  Super sweet alternative to sleeping on the street.

I love the potential for greatness every weekend here.

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One thought on “徳島の阿波踊り祭り – Tokushima’s Awa Odori Festival

  1. Dear Justin: My name is Atsu Tatsuki and I found your blog when I was searching under “Awa Odori Chicago”. I am one of the organizer for Japan Day in Chicago held at Arlington Race Track in July 18 this year. (It is not yet officially announced). As one of the entertainment event, I am putting together “Awa Odori” there. I am wondering if you may be interested to join us and give us your input from your experience in Shikoku Japan. I am originally from Kobe, Japan but my folks now live in Tokushima so I visit there every two years. I would like to reach out to people who had tie with Japan to make the event successful.

    Best,

    Atsu Tatsuki

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