The Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima is another huge August dance festival held in Shikoku and is another major festival this month along with Aomori's Nebuta and the Neputa matsuri in Hirosaki.
The Awa Odori takes place over the Obon period of August 12-15 and is marked by mass ranks (ren) of dancers, dancing through the streets of the city accompanied by music from drums, flutes, shamisen and bells. The festival dates back to 1587 and the completion of Tokushima Castle, when residents of the town were rewarded with free sake doled out by feudal lord Hachisuka Iemasa (1558-1638) and danced with an unsteady gait through the streets.
There are dances during the day called nagashi and more lively dances at night known as zomeki.
The Awa Odori dance steps are fixed and vary for the two sexes. A visit to the Awa Odori Kaikan (Tel: 611 1611) in Tokushima will fill the visitor in on all he or she needs to know about the dance as well as the steps for each dance.
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