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Each region in Japan boasts a rich array of festivals that reflect the spirits of local people and the environments that surround them, but when it comes to vigorous dancing, Shikoku owns the category. Known for their warm climate throughout the year, the people of Shikoku gather and dance to make the summer air even hotter! Through the never-ending beats of folk music and dynamic moves of traditional festive dances, you will find a new way of enjoying the heat.
Swept into the world of vibrant floats
The Sanuki Toyohama Chosa Festival is held on the second weekend of October every year in Toyohama Town, Kagawa Prefecture. The festival is known for its chosa, or floats that are decorated with ornament, gold-colored tassels, and decorative red pieces that waver through to create the top of the float. Other parts of western Japan are known for similar floats, but this festival features one of the larger and eye-catching ones.
As the procession travels down in the neighborhood, carriers and participants chant and shout in unison, creating a festive atmosphere for those carrying the floats and visitors alike. Taiko drums located on the floats add to the beat of the chants, invigorating the town with boisterous cheer and song. Join the locals as they celebrate the harvest of the autumn season before the upcoming winter months. Experience the true spirit of the locals, their connection with each other, and the abundant nature that surrounds them at this festival!
The intense energy of the Ushi-oni cow demons
The Uwajima Ushi-oni Festival is held annually from July 22 to 24 in Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture. The festival is known for its floats resembling the ushi-oni, or cow demon. Each float is measured around five to six meters long with a face of a demon, a long neck, and a body made of bamboo covered in cloth or plant bark. One of the largest Ushi-oni floats requires almost fifty strong adults to carry it, whereas children carry the smaller, lighter Ushi-oni floats.
While people in yukata participate in the Uwajima Odori, similar to the Japanese traditional Bon festival dance, others dance to the rock song "Gaiya on the Road" in the main street. When night falls, visitors can also enjoy the fireworks that light up the sky in colorful sparkles over the bay. The majestic Ushi-oni, the music, the dancing, and the fireworks create the perfect three-day festival that locals and visitors alike can enjoy. All these elements combined create the perfect and quintessential Uwajima summer experience.
Dynamic dancing to a swinging two-beat
The Awa Odori Dance Festival in Tokushima Prefecture is considered one of Japan’s main summer festivals and the largest dance festival that attracts over a million visitors each year. The dance festival is known for its large crowds of visitors and dancers alike and its festive mood. Individual groups of dancers known as ren include both famous dancers as well as the public such as students!
While enjoying the spectacular dance sights the festival has to offer, you can also listen to traditional folk songs such as “Yoshikono.” The combination of traditional folk songs and choreographed dances by the local people creates a wonderful, scenic summer atmosphere. The locals work hard for the Awa Odori Dance Festival to come alive, and it is definitely an astounding event to experience.
Embrace the free-for-all style
The Yosakoi Festival is held annually from August 9 to 12 in Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture. The festival is known for its “anything goes” attitude with only three basic rules: dance with naruko clappers, keep moving forward, and use at least a phrase from a folk song called "yosakoi-bushi." The exceptional variety of performances is what makes this parade enchanting.
In addition to local organizations and students, yosakoi performing groups from across the country participate. Each team showcases their distinctive styles with their own music and choreography, both ranging from traditional to more unconventional genres like funk. The fancy, colorful costumes unique to each team and ornately decorated music trucks brighten up the parade, making it an incredible mix of colors, sounds, and eye-catching visuals. Although its free-for-all style may not work in other cities, Kochi City fully embraces the wonderful visual form that the festival brings to summer.
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