Friday, August 24, 2012
Tokushima City, Shikoku Island, Japan, August 14, 2012. Awa Odori festival is a regional dance festival in Tokushima city which is a part of the greater Bon holiday, where it is tradition to invite your ancestors to come visit you from the dead. At this festival the traffic lights are turned off and the streets overflow with people and dance troops. Not professionals, but neighborhood groups, friends, co-workers gather in large groups to wear traditional clothing and do a dance that is part choreographed part free style, in the streets. Some dances are scheduled into parades and others are renegade with teams commandeering an intersections and going for it (the best ones I saw where of this variety). They each bring along their own set of drummers and some bands even include flutes (shinobue). Drinking contests follow, traditions of politeness are dashed, and old drunk men fall on your friends as they are crouched eating street food made of octopus. Wikipedia describes the situation as anarchy.
Picture captions from the top down: Number 1: The graceful ladies of Japan Railways taking an intersection over. Number 2: Aggressive male beauty salon employees make a floating stage quiver. Number 3: Taiko drummers. Number 4: Yoshino River. Number 5: Drinking contest on the shoulders your friends. I believe the object may be to drink until you fall off. Number 6: A street.