Koenji Awa Odori 2015

Video link: https://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I

Saw the magnificent Koenji Awa Odori dance festival on Sat. Aug. 29, 2015 from 5 pm to 8 pm in Koenji, Tokyo, Japan.

Koenji Awa Odori is a huge street dance festival held annually on the last weekend of Aug. near Koenji Station (JR Chuo Line) and Shin-Koenji Station (Marunouchi Line) in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, Japan.

About 5,000 performers in about 80 dance troupes called “ren” performed on Sat. and Sun. evenings from 5 pm to 8 pm. This video shows 40 troupes on Sat. evening. Most troupes are based in Tokyo including a good number from Koenji. A few are from Tokushima where Awa Odori originated.

登場する40連(みなみ演舞場にて): 山形んだず連、しのぶ連、杉並区役所さざんか連、南相馬連、葵新連、弁慶連、心美連、­朱雀連、晃妙連、舞蝶連、ひょっとこ連、楓連、志留波阿連、美踊連、第三企画連・殿様­連、写楽連、苔作連、江戸歌舞伎連、だむだん連、のびゆく連、華純連、和楽連、江戸浮­連、初台連、東京天水連、高円寺 誠連、美遊ひよこ連、花道連、むさし葵連、騒連中、つくし連、目黒銀座連、天翔連、い­ろは連、三茶連、花菱連、東京えびす連、粋輦、りずむ連、天狗連・平和連

Shortcut links to troupes appearing in this video (*Koenji Awa Odori Association members. **Troupes from Tokushima.):
Yamagata Undazu-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=4m00s
Shinobu-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=5m15s
Suginami City Hall Sazanka-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=6m31s
Minami Soma-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=8m7s
Aoi Shin-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=8m20s
Benkei-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=11m32s
Shinbi-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=13m03s
Suzaku-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=14m1s
Komyo-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=15m53s
Maicho-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=17m59s
Hyottoko-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=21m53s
Kaede-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=24m44s
Silver-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=27m16s
Midori-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=29m57s
Daisan Kikaku-ren & Tonosama-ren**: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=31m51s
Sharaku-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=35m49s
Kokesaku-ren**: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=40m0s
Edo Kabuki-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=41m57s
Damudan-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=44m54s
Nobiyuku-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=46m43s
Kasumi-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=48m15s
Waraku-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=51m17s
Edo Uki-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=52m56s
Hatsudai-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=54m3s
Tokyo Tensui-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=55m54s
Koenji Makoto-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=58m49s
Miyu Hiyoko-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h2m12s
Hanamichi-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h5m10s
Musashi Aoi-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h6m34s
Zomeki-renchu*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h7m15s
Tsukushi-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h8m14s
Meguro Ginza-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h10m38s
Tensho-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h12m2s
Iroha-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h13m46s
Sancha-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h16m20s
Hanabishi-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h18m38s
Tokyo Ebisu-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h20m53s
Sui-ren*: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h21m59s
Rhythm-ren: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h23m49s
Tengu-ren* & Heiwa-ren**: http://youtu.be/0-R4Tkzuw8I?t=1h25m58s


Higashi Rinkan Awa Odori 2015

Went to the Higashi Rinkan Awa Odori dance festival on Aug. 2, 2015 from 5:30 pm to 9 pm in Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan. The dance was held near Higashi Rinkan Station on the Odakyu Enoshima Line. It was excellent, but it was a hot/humid evening. Watched it at the Higashi Chuo Enbujo and Nishi Ekimae Embujo.

Dance troupes appearing in this video: Goraku-ren, Sukeroku-ren, Chidori-ren, Susono-ren, Hiyori-ren, Kyodo Murasaki-ren, Eboshi-ren, Odorikko-ren, Shonan Nagisa-ren, and Tokyo Tensui-ren.

Direct links
Goraku-ren 伍楽連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=42s
Sukeroku-ren 助六連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=9m30s
Chidori-ren ちどり連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=17m51s
Susono-ren すその連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=26m40s
Hiyori-ren ひより連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=30m24s
Kyodo Murasaki-ren 経堂むらさき連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=39m57s
Eboshi-ren 笑星連­: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=44m55s
Odorikko-ren 舞龍連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=50m30s
Shonan Nagisa-ren 湘南なぎさ連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=57m1s
Tokyo Tensui-ren 東京天水連: https://youtu.be/Bmv5ppFXt4s?t=1h1m27s

Yamato Awa Odori 2015

Video link: https://youtu.be/RFGHs7gD3jM

The 39th Yamato Awa Odori dance festival was held on July 25-26, 2015 from 5 pm to 8:30 pm in Yamato, Kanagawa, Japan. I went to see it on July 25, very hot, humid day. This video shows the following dance troupes: Ioto-shima-chidori-ren, Azuma-ren, Chidori-ren, Sonjo-ren, Ukiyo-ren, Yokohama Nishiya-ren, Kensetsu-ren, Medaka-ren, Fuzuki-ren, and Shinbashi-ren.

Chidori-ren is based at the NAF Atsugi Base and I was impressed by a few American dancers. They were as good as the Japanese dancers.


Koganei Awa Odori 2015

Part 1 video link: https://youtu.be/bEfUbibz9AA

Part 2 video link: https://youtu.be/oltA445HWes

The 37th Koganei Awa Odori dance festival was held on July 25-26, 2015 from 6 pm to 9 pm in Koganei, Tokyo, Japan. These two videos were taken on Juy 26, 2015. Part 1 shows the fast and dynamic performances of 9 troupes: Rhythm-ren, Koganei City Hall, Odorikko-ren, Fuyo-ren, Kouta-ren, Aoi Shin-ren, Musashi Minami-ren, Sakura-ren, and Rissho Koseikai.
Part 1に登場する連:りずむ連、小金井市役所連 、舞龍連(おどりっこ)、風踊連 、こうた連 、葵新連 、むさし南連 、さくら 連 、立正佼成会 (小金井街道北口にて)

Part 2 shows: Sakura-ren, Aoi Shin-ren, Seibu Kodomo-kai-ren, Niho-ren, Edo-no-Awa Hotaru, Oyako Taiken-ren, Kurenai-ren, Takiyama Chuo Maimai-ren, Enma-ren, Shinbi-ren, Kouta-ren, Kocho-ren, Maesawa Komachi-ren, Awa Odori-ren Tamaki, and Hachamecha-ren.

Part 2に登場する連:さくら連(2回)、葵新連(2回)、西部子ども会連、弐穂連 、江戸の阿波 蛍、親子体験連 、紅連 、滝山中央舞まい連 、ゑんま連 、心美連 、こうた連、胡蝶蓮、前沢小町連、阿波踊連 たまき、波奴連(はちゃめちゃ) (7月26日に主に小金井街道北口にて)

A total of 43 dance troupes (2,800 performers) appeared during the two-day festival. Many are based in Koganei.

Otsu Matsuri

Video link: http://youtu.be/52tjGe470eA

Here’s my video of Otsu Matsuri filmed last year on Oct. 12-13, 2013. Finally got it done and in time for this year’s festival on Oct. 11-12, 2014. It’s about 28 min. The video spotlights the karakuri mechanical puppets. I also got on-camera comments from foreign participants.

Otsu Matsuri is an annual festival of thirteen ornate floats (called hikiyama) held in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture during the weekend before the second Monday of October. It is a festival of in Otsu.

The floats were built in 17th and 18th centuries. Each one belongs to a different neighborhood in central Otsu. The floats are wooden, about 6 to 7 meters tall, and has three large wooden wheels instead of four (like Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri floats. They are gorgeously outfitted with intricate wood carvings, tapestries (from China, Korea, and even Belgium), paintings, and other art work. Art museums on wheels.

For more details about the festival, see my other blog post here.

Yoyogi Park closed

Due to the threat of mosquitoes carrying dengue fever from August 2014, Yoyogi Park has been closed to the public since September 4, 2014. Here are a few photos of along the fringe of Yoyogi Park on the weekend of September 20-21, 2014.

We just have to wait until colder weather for the mosquitoes to die. The birds, bugs, trees, etc., in the park must be happy to be left alone with no humans.


Yoyogi Park’s main gate is closed.


Even the perimeter of Yoyogi Park has been fenced off so we don’t walk too close.

A security guard patrols the fringe of Yoyogi park.

A security guard patrols the fringe of Yoyogi park. People walk past didn’t seem to be too concerned though. Although I did see one young lady spraying repellant on her miniskirt legs while walking.


This side gate is closed with mosquito warning signs.


Do not enter!!


Beware of mosquitoes!

Kyoto Gion Matsuri’s new boat float


Brand new Ofune-hoko. Click image to see more photos.

Meet Gion Matsuri’s brand new boat float, the Ofune-hoko (大船鉾). It made its debut in the Gion Matsuri procession for the first time on July 24, 2014, a week after the first and main procession on July 17.

The Gion Matsuri now holds two yama-hoko float processions. The first one on July 17 (Saki Matsuri) is still the larger one with 23 floats. The Ato Matsuri on July 24 has 10 floats including the brand new Ofune-hoko boat float which appears last in the Ato Matsuri procession.

The Gion Matsuri being designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009 was also very encouraging. The new boat float was estimated to cost ¥120 million. In Oct. 2011, the float’s wooden framework was completed at a cost of ¥30 million yen. The wheels cost another ¥30 million, roof ¥20 million, and ornaments and decorations ¥40 million.

Although the Ofune-hoko made its festival debut in July 2014, it is still not complete. It will take more years to finance and add more decorative items. They are still seeking donations (1,000 yen minimum). Website: ofunehoko.jp

Also watch my video of the Ofune-hoko in the Ato Matsuri followed by the Hanagasa Parade on July 24, 2014.

Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple

Menuma Shodenzan

Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple (妻沼聖天山) is Saitama Prefecture’s sole National Treasure building. It is a magnificent restoration of a 250-year-old building covered with intricate woodcarvings.

Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin temple was built during 1735 to 1760, taking 25 years. The woodcarvings all but lost their original color and splendor after 2.5 centuries under the weather. However, following an enthusiastic local campaign to restore the building’s artwork, the building was painstakingly restored. And what a magnificent job they did, taking seven years from 2003. Despite having modern sensing equipment, they sometimes still could not tell what the original paint color was for certain parts. A very time-consuming work.

But they were rewarded with the building designated as a National Treasure in May 2012. The restored building was opened for public viewing on June 1, 2011. Admission is 700 yen. Guided tours are conducted, but only in Japanese. You can freely walk around and view the building.



Monkeys hold up the building.


Menuma Shodenzan’s Kisomon Gate is unusual for its triple gables.

Menuma Shodenzan is about a 20-min. bus ride from JR Kumagaya Station. Go to Bus stop No. 6 near JR Kumagaya Station’s North exit.

More photos here.

Pharrell Williams HAPPY – Matsuri Version

Video link: http://youtu.be/FKchoOLG2TY

Pharrell Williams scored a huge hit with his song Happy last autumn. It has since become a worldwide phenomenon with people in cities around the world making street dance videos with the song. Pretty amazing.

It has inspired me to make the above HAPPY video of matsuri festivals. Matsuri is a common way for people in Japan to express being happy. You’ll be impressed by the great variety of festivals.

Okinawa Mensore Festa

Everybody loves Okinawa. Named Okinawa Mensore Festa (沖縄めんそーれフェスタ), a week of Okinawan entertainment and food was held at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, Tokyo during May 30-June 8, 2014. I went to see the Okinawan dances and Eisa drummers on May 31, 2014. Held at alpa’s Fountain Plaza on the B1 basement floor. Free admission.

My video includes Yotsudake (classical Okinawan dance), Wakashu-zei, Martial arts dance with karate and martial arts movements, Kanayo, Mamidoka Kuroshima Kudochi (farmer’s dance from Ishigaki), and Eisa taiko drummers from Onnason village. Miss Okinawa (Miss Sky Blue, Keiko Takaesu) was also on hand to promote Onna village.

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