Awa Odori Festival Back in Step with ¥200,000 Premium Seats for Tourists

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Dancers perform at the Awa Odori dance festival in Tokushima on Saturday.

The Awa Odori dance festival, one of the most popular summer festivals in Japan, kicked off Saturday in Tokushima City.

It’s the first time in four years the event is being held on a scale matching the pre-pandemic era, after being downsized under COVID restrictions. Because of the relaxed restrictions, the event is expected to draw — by the end of Tuesday — far more than the 460,000 visitors seen the previous year.

The evenings see dancers take turns performing at four outdoor venues in the center of the city, showing off the graceful “Onna Odori”(women’s dance) and dynamic “Otoko Odori”(men’s dance) to musical accompaniment played on flutes, drums and gongs amid chanting.

The excitement of the audience reached a climax when the dancers gathered together for the grand finale, called “So Odori” dance.

Last year, the amount of spectator seating for the festival was down to about 80% of the pre-pandemic levels because of infection control measures.

In addition, premium seats targeting foreign tourists at ¥200,000 per person have been introduced. Visitors enjoyed the spectacle while savoring food made with local ingredients.