The energetic, dance-filled festival will make its grand outdoor return to the streets of Tokyo for the first time since before the pandemic.

A famous Tokyo summertime tradition, the Tokyo Koenji Awaodori, will mark its 64th incarnation this year. After being completely canceled in 2020, then available as an online-only livestream in 2021, a smaller scale indoor performance was finally held last year. This year’s event, to be held August 26 and 27, from 5 to 8 p.m., will be the first fully outdoor large spectacle in Tokyo’s Koenji district (west of Shinjuku) since 2019.

Awaodori is a traditional kind of dance which originated in Tokushima Prefecture. Groups of dancers perform high-energy, choreographed routines accompanied to the sounds of traditional instruments. The Koenji festival is the largest showcase of the dance outside of Tokushima.

▼ The Tokyo Koenji Awaodori four years ago

This year’s festival will take place within the shopping areas between JR Koenji Station and Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Shin-koenji Station. There are eight designated dancing sites where the streets are sure to be bustling with long-awaited excitement.

The Tokyo Koenji Awaodori was first held in 1957. It initially took place in only one shopping locale, but gradually grew over the years to encompass adjacent streets in Koenji as well. Now it’s a famous and representative summer festival of Tokyo as a whole.

As evidence of its popularity, in its last regular edition held in 2019, the festival mobilized over 1.01 million participants–10,000 dancers and one million cheering spectators. The streets were absolutely packed with smiling and shouting people of all ages.

Also for the first time in four years, from May 11 to 13, the Tokyo Koenji Awaodori was performed in Taiwan. About 95 dancers gathered in Taoyuan City, Yunlin County, and Taipei for the performances, which celebrated longstanding cultural ties. Beginning with a youth baseball exchange in 2011, Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, of which Koenji is a part, also formally established a cultural pact with Taiwan National Drama Academy in 2015. That same year the Tokyo Koenji Awaodori was performed in Taiwan for the first time.

The schedule for this year’s Tokyo Koenji Awaodori festival from August 26-27 can be viewed in English on its official website linked below.

Right now is also a big time for Tokyo Shinto festivals in general, as this week marks the every-other-year Kanda Festival and annual Sanja Festival, both of which are worth checking out if you’re in the city!

Reference: Tokyo Koenji Awaodori Official Site
Images: PR Times
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