As I announced in my last article Travel to Tokushima – 1. Tokushima Ramen, today I would like to introduce you Awaorodri, one of the most famous Japanese traditional dances. And there, in Tokushima, you can learn its history and how to dance at Awaodori kaikan.
1. What is a Japanese traditional dance?
Before I start to talk about Awaorodri dance, I will explain what Japanese traditional dance is. When we say “Japanese dance”, that can mean some different dances. One of the most well-known dances is Nihon buyou, which is a quite formal dance. Dancers wear Japanese traditional kimono and thick make up so that they will look like a doll. In a past, this kind of dance was performed for the people belonging to a high status society, such as bushi who were involved in politics or successful business owners. There was a dancer delivery service for a limited regulars as well and ordering popular dancers, who were merely available, could be a sign of success. Another famous Japanese dance is Bon odori, which is a quite casual dance. The idea of “Bon” is very unique and sometimes it is difficult for foreign people to understand. In Japan, there is a “Bon” season during summer, when it is believed that our ancestors come back to their home from the heaven. I remember that in this season my grandmother lighted the candles near fresh fruits and some cakes and left the windows open every night. She told me that candles helped our ancestors to find her house and opened windows and foods could tell them that they were very welcomed. And the dance people performed in this season is called Bon odori (odori means dance). Usually people living in a town gather and dance in a circle with songs to hope our ancestors’ souls can stay happy and peaceful in the heaven. There were some kinds of styles and songs of Bon odori, and one of the style which became very famous was Awaodori dance. So originally, it had very religious meaning.
2. How can we learn Awaodori dance more?
First, you must head to Awaodori kaikain, which takes only 10 minutes by foot from JR Tokushima station. When you arrive there, you can ask receptionists for tickets, and if you are English speaker, they will offer you English subtitles during a show.
The show starts with Awaodori dance performed by professional dancers. Then a leader of the team gives you a short lecture about the history of Awaodori dance. After that, there will be the most enjoyable part, dance lessons!
In the end, some of participants are chosen as best dancers. And yes, my husband was chosen and awarded in front of other participants!
Unfortunately, even though he can speak simple Japanese, people in this area has a strong accent so he needed me as a translator to answer a short interview! But the presenter was a very friendly guy and welcomed my husband warmly so my husband had a really really good time!
If you are interested in visiting Awaodori and have some problem finding out how to get there etc. please feel free to contact me via comments. I hope you enjoy my article today too!