This is Chipa Mwenya once again, the Bilingual staff (half Zambian and half Japanese) at Sakura House.
Today, I would like to share with you my all time favorite Japanese Matsuri (traditional dance event) called the Awa Odori! Last year (2017), it was my first time participating in this event and if you really want to get a feel of the real Japanese culture, I would highly recommend challenging yourself with this! Yeah, that’s me in the picture below.
So what is Awa Odori? Awa Odori is one of the biggest street festivals in Tokyo that is mainly performed during the summer (it’s held between August 12 and 15) . Thousands of dancers take to the streets of the neighborhood over the two-day event, and more than 1.2 million people come to watch them.
There are also different styles of dance for men and women. The basic steps are the same but posture is different. Men dance spread out and crouch low. Women dance in a tight formation and remain upright with their hands often reaching for the sky. The women’s dance has a more graceful flow. The men’s dance is bouncy.
The reason why Sakura House and the Sakura House residents get involved in such local events is because, it is simply a bonding experience between the Japanese locals and foreigners. Personally speaking, when meeting Japanese people in a normal or daily situation, they would be shy around foreginers as they are not used to the open and straight forward culture that we have. Therefore, the only time I feel that we can get closer to them and get to know more about their culture is actually by taking part in these local events! I was really surprised how open they become and how many new friends you can make just in one night!
Some of you may be worried that you may not have the dance skills but trust me the dances moves are simple and repetitive. We will actually have dance practices with the local ward office and even if you are a beginner, you will find many people in your position. The other cool thing about this event, at the end of the dance, we come all together and eat lots of food and drink lots!!
If you would like to try this event out (this could be a one time life experience for you), click this link and we can give you more information and I can also give you more details of my personal experience!