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Awa Odori Festival 2023: Tokushima's Summer Dance Festival

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Tokushima's Awa Odori Festival is one of Japan's most famous summer dance festivals. The Awa Odori Festival 2023 will be held August 12 - 15. Read on to learn the festival's highlights, how to access the venues, and how to best enjoy the event.

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Awa Odori: Traditional Summer Dance Performance in Tokushima

The Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima is one of the most famous dance festivals in Japan. Along with Gifu’s Gujo Odori Dance and Akita’s Nishimonai Bon Odori, it has a history of over 400 years and is counted as one of Japan’s three most important Bon Odori Festivals (*1).

*1 Bon or Obon... The custom of remembering ancestors and deceased family by visiting their graves, which is usually performed in August.

During the Awa Odori Festival, thousands of people are dancing to the Awa Yoshikono chant "The dancers are fools and the watchers are fools. If both are fools, then why not dance?"

The Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima will be held August 12 - 15, 2023.

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Awa Odori Festival Features

 Awa Odori Festival 2023: Tokushima's Summer Dance Festival
 Awa Odori Festival 2023: Tokushima's Summer Dance Festival

© JNTO

There are two Awa Odori styles. For the men’s dance, they wear happi coats (*1) with their yukata while female dancers wear amigasa (*2) along with their yukata for the women’s dance. Indeed, the charm and elegance of the women dancing in their pink and red yukata is one of the highlights of the festival.

While you can view Awa Odori festivals in many places in Tokushima prefecture as well as in Koenji and Nakameguro in Tokyo, the most famous of them all is the Tokushima City's Awa Odori Festival. Held every year during the Obon Holiday season from August 12th to the 15th, over a million people visit year after year to watch more than a hundred thousand dancers perform.

Read on to learn how to access the venues of the Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima and the highlights of the event.

*1 Happi coat: a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat usually worn only to festivals.
*2 Amigasa: a traditional braided straw hat used to protect wearers from the sun in summer.

Awa Odori Festival and Station Access

Awa Odori

© JNTO

The Tokushima City Awa Odori is held on the south side of JR Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station
Adress: Tokushima, Tokushima, Terashima Honcho, Nishi 1-61 Google Map

Travelling From Tokyo By Shinkansen

If traveling from Tokyo to Tokushima by train, take the Shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Hakata from Tokyo Station and get off at Okayama Station. From there change to the JR Rapid Service Marine Liner bound for Takamatsu and get off at Takamatsu Station (the last stop). From Takamatsu, take the JR Limited Express Uzushio bound for Tokushima and get off at Tokushima Station (again the last stop). It takes roughly 6 hours and costs 18,010 yen for unreserved-seat tickets.

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Travelling From Tokyo By Airplane

If you're traveling by air, take a domestic flight from Haneda Airport bound for Tokushima Awaodori Airport. There are 10 flights per day departing from Haneda. It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to fly to Tokushima Airport and prices range from 15,000 to 20,000 yen depending on the airline and season.

From Tokushima Awaodori Airport, you can take a limousine bus bound for Tokushima Station. It takes about 30 minutes and costs 440 yen.

What to Expect at the Awa Odori Festival

Here are some tips on how to enjoy the the Awa Odori Festival.

Check Out the Various Ren and Their Different Styles!

Awa Odori

© JNTO

The Tokushima City Awa Odori takes place in front of Tokushima Station from 18:00 to 22:30 every day from August 12 to 15.
There is no specific or correct way to dance the Awa Odori. Instead, there are over 1,000 different dance groups called Ren who perform their own unique dance styles. Appreciating the various dances is a big part of the fun!

Join the Niwaka Ren and Try Dancing Yourself

You can view the Awa Odori from various locations around the city. There are paid spectator stands called theaters atTokushima Municipal Office’s Shiyakusho-mae, Aibahama Park, Konyamachi and Minamiuchi-machi. There are also several areas you can view for free including Ryogoku Honmachi, Shinmachibashi and Motomachi.

Dancing in front of Tokushima Station is reserved for those who have signed up, joined a dance group, and have properly rehearsed beforehand; day-of participation is not permitted with most groups.

However, there is one group called the Niwaka Ren, which anyone can join on the day of the event. International visitors are welcome to participate, too. You can dance with the Niwaka Ren at the Tokushima Ekimae Dance Plaza and Motomachi-odori Dance Plaza from 18:30 to 20:30. So if you feel like dancing, go ahead and join in the festivities!

What to Bring to Make the Most of the Awa Odori

Clothing and Shoes

The average temperature in August in Tokushima is 27.8 degrees Celsius—often reaching highs of 30 degrees Celsius and above at noon. Light attire such as T-shirts, shorts, and footwear consisting of sneakers or sandals are recommended.

Other Things (A Towel/Water)

It gets hot and you will break out in a sweat, make sure to stay properly hydrated and bring a towel in order to enjoy the festival.


Main image by Pixta

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