JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.


Most viewed - Koenji Awa Odori Dance 高円寺阿波おどり
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These days, they have 10,000 dancers from 70 dance groups and over 1 million spectators. Also see the video at YouTube.289 viewsいろは連
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Koenji Awa Odori, Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連221 views
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Koenji Awa Odori, Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連220 views
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Crowd at JR Koenji Station on Awa Odori night.186 viewsThe Koenji Awa Odori is basically a parade of dancers. Many groups of dancers from various parts of Japan participate in the parade that follows the main shopping streets near Koenji Station on the Japan Railways Chuo Line in Tokyo.
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The troupe can consist of children (as young as age 2 or 3), women, and men.169 viewsThe Awa Odori originated 400 years ago in Tokushima Prefecture (in Shikoku) where it is one of Japan's most famous festivals. Although it is not as large as the one in Tokushima, the Koenji Awa Odori in Tokyo has become a major summer festival in Tokyo.
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Tokyo Aoi-ren 東京葵連154 views
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Koenji has many shopping arcades and side streets teeming with eateries.154 views
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The dancers hop on one leg.153 viewsSo what is Tokushima's Awa Odori doing in Koenji, Tokyo? It was first organized by a youth group of Koenji's retail merchants in 1957. They wanted to hold an event to attract more shoppers to the area. Neighboring town Asagaya had already started the Tanabata Festival in 1954. The Tanabata Matsuri, of course, is from up north in Sendai, Miyagi Pref. So the Koenji folks decided to transplant a southern festival to Koenji. That was the Awa Odori.
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Tokyo Aoi-ren 東京葵連153 views
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JR Koenji Station and Awa Odori sign.145 views
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After it's over...145 views
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The Koenji Awa Odori has become a major summer festival in Tokyo. It had a humble beginning in 1957 when it was originally called the Koenji Baka Odori. "Baka" means fool.144 views
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Tokyo Aoi-ren 東京葵連144 views
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The dancers wear a light kimono and half-moon straw hats.141 views
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天翔連139 views
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The parade route centers on JR Koenji Station. There are wide and narrow portions of the route.137 viewsIf it rains, they may stop the festival early.
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天翔連137 views
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美遊ひよこ連136 views
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天翔連136 views
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Tokyo Aoi-ren 東京葵連136 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連135 views
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The dance troupe typically has subgroups of children, women, men, and musicians. Suiko-ren 吹鼓連129 views吹鼓連
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Tokyo Aoi-ren 東京葵連129 views
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Tengu-ren 天狗連129 views
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Budo-ren 富道連128 views富道連
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128 views美遊ひよこ連
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Tengu-ren 天狗連128 views
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天翔連126 views
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美遊ひよこ連125 views
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125 views美遊ひよこ連
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The dance troupes come from in and out of town. A few from Tokushima as well as Kanagawa, Chiba, Shizuoka, and other prefectures. Edokko-ren 江戸っ子連125 views
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Silver-ren 志留波阿連125 views
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Other dancers might also wear a simpler outfit of short pants and happi coat. Swinging around a fan is also common.124 views花の木連
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Hyottoko-ren ひょっとこ連123 views
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Bikkuri-ren びっくり連122 views
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Maicho-ren 舞蝶連122 views
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These pictures show over 40 dance troupes which I photographed in 2004 and 2005. Budo-ren 富道連121 views富道連
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F.I.A.-ren えふあいえい連121 views
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Silver-ren 志留波阿連121 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連120 views
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Tatsuno Otoshiko-ren たつのおとし子連120 views
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One trademark of the dancers is the crescent-shaped straw hats.119 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連119 views
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Musicians always bring up the rear of the dance troupe. Taiko drums, flutes, and shamisen. The Awa Odori has a distinct rhythm and beat. It really makes you want to get up and dance.118 views
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Tokushima and Tokyo have the most number of Awa Odori troupes with 40 to 50 each.118 viewsEdokko-ren 江戸っ子連
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Maicho-ren 舞蝶連118 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連118 views
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Kikusui-ren 菊水会菊水連117 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連117 views
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Shamisen player who knows how to smile for my camera. Koganei Sakura-ren 小金井さくら連117 views
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The men look more like the "fools."116 views
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Maicho-ren 舞蝶連116 views
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Kokesaku-ren 苔作連116 views
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Each dance troupe starts with a lantern bearer showing the name of the troupe.115 viewsThe dance is quite simple. While bobbing up and down, the dancer holds her hands above the head and shakes the fingers. This hand gesture indicates that the person has gone crazy. It is therefore nicknamed the "fool's dance." The dance is held on the last weekend in August.
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Each dance troupe is called a "ren." This is the Suiko-ren. 吹鼓連115 views
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天翔連115 views
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The first Koenji Awa Odori in 1957 had only 57 dancers and about 2,000 spectators. Iroha-ren いろは連114 viewsThere are now about 30 to 40 Awa Odori parades held in Tokyo alone, usually in shopping areas. The one in Koenji is the largest in Tokyo.
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Midori-ren 美踊連114 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連114 views
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天翔連114 views
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Kokesaku-ren 苔作連113 views
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Many of the troupe names have pretty meanings such as Maicho-ren which means "Dancing Butterfly." 舞蝶連113 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連113 views
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Silver-ren 志留波阿連113 views
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The Aoi Shin-ren is from Koenji and one of the largest Awa Odori troupes. They are great performers and one of my favorites.113 views
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112 viewsEdokko-ren 江戸っ子連
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Maicho-ren 舞蝶連112 views
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It is most crowded along the large avenues. The crowd is several rows deep. Those in the front are expected to sit down.111 views
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The dancers also let out a yell as they dance. Hana-no-ki-ren 花の木連110 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連110 views
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F.I.A.-ren えふあいえい連110 views
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Musashi Minami-ren むさし南連110 views
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Kimagu-ren きまぐ連109 views
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109 viewsMidori-ren 美踊連
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きたまちじゃじゃ馬連109 views
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Also see the video at YouTube.108 views
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Taiko drummers jamming. Tensui-ren 天水連108 views
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Kimagu-ren きまぐ連107 views
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Midori-ren 美踊連107 views
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Goraku-ren 伍楽連107 views
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Asuka-ren 飛鳥連106 views
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Tengu-ren 天狗連106 views
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Mitaka-ren みたか連105 views
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Sometimes you see a gaijin participant. F.I.A.-ren えふあいえい連104 views
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Suzaku-ren 朱雀連104 views
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Hyottoko-ren ひょっとこ連104 views
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Goraku-ren 伍楽連103 views
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Tatsuno Otoshiko-ren たつのおとし子連103 views
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連103 views
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Hyottoko-ren ひょっとこ連103 views
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Kikusui-ren 菊水会菊水連102 views
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Damudan-ren だむだん連102 views
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Sazanka-ren 杉並区役所さざんか連102 views
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Mitaka-ren みたか連101 views
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Damudan-ren だむだん連101 views
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きたまちじゃじゃ馬連100 views
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Kikusui-ren 菊水会菊水連99 views
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Musashi Minami-ren むさし南連99 views
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連99 views
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騒連中98 views
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Edo Kabuki-ren 江戸歌舞伎連98 views
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連97 views
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Sazanka-ren 杉並区役所さざんか連97 views
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A few troupes are company-sponsored and take on the company's name like this one, a construction company.96 viewsThere is even the Microsoft-ren. (Not pictured here.)
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Sharaku-ren 写楽連96 views
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96 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連96 views
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Suzaku-ren 朱雀連96 views
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Hanamichi-ren 花道連96 views
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連96 views
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Edo Kabuki-ren 江戸歌舞伎連96 views
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Sharaku-ren 写楽連95 views
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Yurikamome-ren ゆりかもめ連95 views
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Damudan-ren だむだん連95 views
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Musashi Minami-ren むさし南連94 views
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Damudan-ren だむだん連94 views
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Koganei Sakura-ren 小金井さくら連94 views
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From the Suginami Ward Office, Sazanka-ren 杉並区役所さざんか連94 views
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Tensui-ren 天水連94 views
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Aoi Shin-ren 葵新連93 views
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Ageo Koiki-ren (from Saitama) あげお小粋連93 views
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Musashi Minami-ren むさし南連93 views
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Hanamichi-ren 花道連93 views
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連93 views
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Asuka-ren 飛鳥連93 views
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Kikusui-ren 菊水会菊水連92 views
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Sharaku-ren 写楽連92 views
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Mitaka-ren みたか連92 views
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騒連中92 views
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Asuka-ren 飛鳥連92 views
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成増チルド連92 views
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Hanamichi-ren 花道連91 views
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90 viewsSharaku-ren 写楽連
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連90 views
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Edo Kabuki-ren 江戸歌舞伎連90 views
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粋輦連89 views
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Koganei is a city in Tokyo with a park famous for sakura cherry blossoms. Koganei Sakura-ren 小金井さくら連89 views
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Hanamichi-ren 花道連89 views
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Koganei Sakura-ren 小金井さくら連88 views
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86 views
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Hanamichi-ren 花道連86 views
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Sazanka-ren 杉並区役所さざんか連86 views
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成増チルド連83 views
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粋輦連80 views
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Shinobu-ren しのぶ連80 views
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My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2015 第59回高円寺阿波おどり 40連の総集編45 views
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My video of 2016 Koenji Awa Odori (56 troupes) 第60回高円寺阿波おどり 56連の総集編 44 views
000q-koenjiawaodori.youtube
My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2011 Part 2/2 高円寺阿波おどり42 views
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My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2009 Part 2/3 - Kikusui-ren 菊水会菊水連41 views
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My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2009 Part 3/3 - Asuka-ren 飛鳥連41 views
000n-koenjiawaodori.youtube
My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2013 Part 2/3 第57回 東京高円寺阿波おどり 総集編40 views
000o-koenjiawaodori.youtube
My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2013 Part 3/3 第57回 東京高円寺阿波おどり 総集編40 views
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My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2011 Part 1/2 高円寺阿波おどり40 views
000r-koenjiawaodori.youtube
My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2009 Part 1/3 - Kokesaku 苔作40 views
000m-koenjiawaodori.youtube
My video of Koenji Awa Odori 2013 Part 1/3 第57回 東京高円寺阿波おどり 総集編39 views
 
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