Awa Odori festival back after 3 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants dance in front a large audience for the first time since 2019 at an outdoor venue in Tokushima City on Friday.

TOKUSHIMA — The Awa Odori dance festival is stepping back into areas of Tokushima City at outdoor venues that are ready to handle large gatherings.

The festival, which kicked off on Friday, is one of the country’s most high-profile Bon Odori dance events, featuring traditional Japanese dance that is held nationwide each year in the middle of summer.

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, however, it was canceled in 2020 and scaled back in 2021, mainly indoors.

It is back after three years, with four outdoor venues throughout the city set to host main events at each venue — at which many dancers from various groups move in formation.

The festival on the first day in the Minamiuchi district — capacity 2,300 visitors — echoed with applause when attendees laid eyes on the about 1,000 dancers on hand.

“It was emotional to see members of the audience enjoying themselves,” said a 36-year-old male dancer.

The organizer of the festival has implemented preventive measures against the spread of the virus at each venue such as socially distanced seating arrangements and a general ban on eating and drinking.

The city center figures to be in a festive mood through Monday’s final day.