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September 7th, 2018

Tokushima: Fascinated by Awa Odori!

Tokushima City in Tokushima Prefecture is located 500 kilometers west of Tokyo in the eastern part of Shikoku Island. The prefecture's summer highlight is the "Awa Odori" or the Awa Dance Festival, one of the largest festivals in Japan. "Awa" is the old name for Tokushima Prefecture. Our Persian language announcer, Maryam Zarafshar, who lived in Tokushima for 6 years, travels to the city during the most exciting time of year.

Reporter Maryam Zarafshar

Major Attractions and Events

Awa Odori: You’ll miss out if you don’t dance

During the Awa Dance Festival from August 12 to 15, over one million people crowd the city of a population of 250 thousand. Around 20 venues are prepared for the event, and over 1,000 groups perform their dances.

Maryam followed her favorite group, "Sasa-ren," which is known for their tradition and high dancing techniques. They taught her the women’s dance!

The "Niwaka-ren," the suddenly made makeshift ren, enables last-minute participation. Maryam wears a happi and ties the indigo-dyed cloth around her head and takes part in the dance line.

The key to the flourishing of the Awa Dance: A specialty of Tokushima, "Indigo of Awa"

"Ai no Yakata," which displays former houses of indigo merchants, is located in Aizumi, a town neighboring Tokushima City. The indigo of Awa won a nationwide reputation for its high quality, and merchants built up enormous wealth. Toshio Abe, the director of the museum says, "Awa Dance thrived because the indigo merchants paid for the costumes and musical instruments."

At "Ai no Yakata," visitors can experience indigo dyeing. Natural indigo changes from a dark green to navy blue when it comes in contact with air.

The Japanese liked wearing indigo-dyed clothing, and was worn by the samurai and the town’s people alike. It was called "Japan blue" by people from overseas who visited modern Japan.


The flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Tokushima Awaodori Airport is an hour and fifteen minutes. From there, the ride to Tokushima City on the airport bus is about 30 minutes. For the town of Aizumi, the nearest station is Shozui, a fifteen-minute train ride from the JR Tokushima Station.

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