Friday, August 26, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Awa Odori Kaikan 阿波おどり会館

Visited 16.11.2014 (Sun)

Must visit! Awa Odori (阿波おどり) has a long history, dating all the way back to 400 years ago and has successfully evolved as a prominent trademark of Tokushima Prefecture. The dance is celebrated as a summer festival all over the entire prefecture in August and the largest scale event is held in Tokushima city from 12 to 15 August, attracting an amazing figure of 1.3 million visitors to this small city which has only a population of about 260,000! Unbelievable isn't it?
So what makes Awa Odori so appealing to so many people? The basic dance movements can be executed easily by most people regardless of age - move right leg and arm forward at the same time, followed by left leg and arm and repeat the movements. Such action is rather unorthodox (in mandarin, we refer this as "同手同脚"), may seemed hilarious to many but this is simply unique to Awa Odori and you would not be criticized for doing that! Be fascinated by how synchronised the movements of all performers are as they danced merrily down the street to the beat of melodious music, shouting out the cheers energetically. Apart from the spirit of celebration, what impressed me most is the shear amount of effort taken to make such event sustainable which has a greater cause to instill a sense of belonging: something that the locals can relate to or be proud of back at home. If you are unable to participate in the actual event in August, Awa Odori Kaikan is where this vibrant dance can be enjoyed all year round and definitely one attraction that should not be missed on any visit to Tokushima. 

Just dance! Covered Naruto whirlpools and Onaruto-bashi in the day and visited Awa Kaikan in the evening. Bought our tickets to the only night show held everyday at 8 pm. Donned in colourful traditional costumes, dance troupe is made up of people of different ages; from as young as elementary school students to seasoned performers in their forties. As I immersed myself into the jubilant atmosphere, I realised that the dance was not as easy as I thought. The professional version of Awa Odori actually requires performers to dance close to a half squat posture which can be quite strenuous to the knees. Audience will get to learn the dance with the help of live demonstration and even join in the fun in one of the dance segments. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves throughout the 50 minutes performance as it was very engaging from the start till the very end. The ecstatic mood experienced during Awa Odori continued on even after the performance as we attempted to do the dance on our walk back to the hotel from Awa Odori Kaikan (when no one was looking)!

Other facilities. Tourist information corner and Arudeyo Tokushima, an area dedicated to sale of local products and souvenirs, are located on the ground floor. The hall where performances are held is on the second floor. A mini museum introducing the history and features of Awa Odori is accessible on the third floor. Ropeway to the summit of Bizan is located on the fifth floor. Did contemplate to visit Bizan which promises a good overview of Tokushima city, but was not able to squeeze out time to accomplish this in the end. Ropeway round trip cost 1,020 yen.

Awa Odori Kaikan with Bizan in the background.

Awa Odori Kaikan 阿波おどり会館
Day performance ticket price = 600 yen
- Weekdays: 3 performances/day (1400, 1500 and 1600 hrs)
- Weekends and public holidays = 4 performances/day (1100, 1400, 1500 and 1600 hrs)
Night performance ticket price = 800 yen
- Everyday, commences at 2000 hrs
Awa Odori (in Japanese):

How to get there?
(1) By foot. Approx 10 minutes walk from Tokushima JR Station.


Video #1: Scroll to 1:57 for Go Go Japan's feature on Awa Odori Kaikan.

Video #2: Scroll to 10:20 for 爱玩客's feature on Awa Odori Kaikan.


Commemorative stamps:

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