Captivating Moments from Shimokitazawa Awa Odori 2023
Shimokitazawa Awa Odori 2023! I was back there after eight years. Work, rain, sickness, you name it, conspired to prevent me from going. I’m glad I had time off work to go. This time, it was the perfect event.
Do you know Shimokitazawa? If you don’t, you should go if you have the chance. It has a unique and alternative atmosphere. Locals and tourists love it. Artsy and bohemian are words often used to describe it. There are boutiques, vintage clothing stores, record shops, and art galleries. It’s Tokyo hipster country.
What is the Awa Odori?
Awa Odori is a traditional Japanese dance from Shikoku’s Tokushima Prefecture. Some people say it has its roots in Buddhism. Another theory was that it was to celebrate the construction of Tokushima Castle. And another says it comes from Furyu dance. I have no idea which is correct but it has evolved into a joyous celebration. And it has now spread all over Japan.
Groups of choreographed dancers and musicians known as ren (連) dance through the streets. Shamisen, taiko, flute, and bell players accompany them. Performers wear traditional obon dance costumes. They chant and sing as they parade through the streets. The event is colorful and lively.
What is photographing the Shimokitazawa Awa Odori like?
Some photographers might find it easy, but not me. It can be difficult. Why?
- The streets are narrow. There isn’t much space to work with.
- Everything happens after dark. You’ll be working with high ISOs.
- Dance movements can be fast so photos might get some blur.
- The event is popular. Many people will be on the streets. You’ll have to find a place to squeeze into.
Shimokitazawa: The Perfect Place for the Awa Odori
So, yes, there are some problems photographing this event, but don’t let them put you off. They do come with some benefits. Shimokitazawa’s streets are narrow but they foster an intimate atmosphere. That creates a sense of togetherness that enhances the festival experience. And with many people drinking, the person next to you might become a new friend. For a “Tokyo experience”, it is awesome.
There were problems photographing, but I enjoyed it. I was so close to the dancers. It was an intimate experience. For eight years I couldn’t get to this event. But it was perfect. I now have some great memories to take into the future.
And the crowd was so friendly. A couple of lovely ladies saw me with my camera and insisted I take their place. That let me get even closer to the street. A big thank you to them. Plus, it isn’t over! In one week, there will be the Koenji Awa Odori 2023. And that event will be even bigger. Please come back for more photos!