Photo By: Ville Misaki
Region
Shikoku
Island
Shikoku
Largest City
Tokushima
Population
823,997

Awa Odori Dance Festival

Join the party at Japan’s most famous dance festival.

  • Held annually from Aug. 12 to 15
Summer festivals all across Japan fill the warm night air with music, laughter and infectious energy, but few are as lively as Tokushima City’s Awa Odori. It’s the biggest, baddest dance festival in the county featuring colorful costumes and female dancers wearing characteristic folded tatami hats.

Annually from Aug. 12 to 15, thousands of dancers and over a million spectators descend on the peaceful city in Shikoku—the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. The festival’s name comes from the ancient name for Tokushima Prefecture Awa— and the Japanese word for dance, odori.

The high-energy and jubilant celebration dates back over 400 years!

Ren dancers at the Tokushima Awa Odori.

Photo by: Laura Tomàs Avellana Dancers of all ages descend on Tokushima for the festival.

What to expect

Groups of dancers known as ren perform in a procession along the city streets between 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. each day of the festival. Accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments, the ren hail from all across Japan, with some even coming from abroad to take part. Each group takes to the streets with a different variation of the traditional choreography and distinctive costumes.

A male dancer at the Tokushima Awa Odori.

Photo by: Laura Tomàs Avellana The festival includes both male and female dancers.

There are six stage areas offering either free or paid seating— which will give you the best views of the more professional dance groups. You can still enjoy both professional and amateur ren from the free seats and from the streets, just the same though.

The whole of the downtown area surrounding Tokushima station becomes a pedestrian-only zone during the festival, with food stalls, games and more casual dancing—which everyone is encouraged to participate in!

Awa Odori Museum

A performance at the Awa Odori Kaikan.

Photo by: Dunphasizer You can experience a performance at the Awa Odori Museum also!

If you can’t attend the festival but still want to get a feel for it during your Tokushima trip, visit the Awa Odori Kaikan building at the base of the Mount Bizan Ropeway. Here you’ll find a museum about the festival, as well as a dance hall where you can watch live performances. There are five performances daily, including one in the evening.

Tokyo’s Koenji neighborhood also holds its own Awa Odori festival on the last weekend of August, which is a fantastic alternative if you can’t make it to Shikoku.

Top 10 cultural experiences in Japan: Join a matsuri

Koenji in Tokyo has it’s own Awa Odori Festival if you can’t make the real deal in Tokushima.

Accommodations in Tokushima city tend to get booked up months in advance, due to the festival’s popularity. If you can’t find anywhere to stay, consider making a day trip from a nearby city like Naruto which is only 40 minutes away by train.

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Things To Know

How to get tickets

Tickets for the paid seating areas range from about ¥800 to ¥2200 for a two-hour performance block. They can be purchased in advance at convenience stores across the country. You can purchase tickets on the day from the tourist information center in front of Tokushima station or right outside the reserved stages themselves from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Hours and fees

The action happens between 6 p.m. and 10: 30 p.m. Awa Odori Kaikan is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and entry is ¥300. Performances are five times a day at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. Daytime performances cost an additional ¥800 while the evening show is ¥1000. They are closed irregularly, so check their website before going.

How To Get There

Address

1-chōme-61 Terashimahonchōnishi, Tokushima, 770-0831, Japan

By train

The nearest station is JR Tokushima. Take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen (bullet train) from either Tokyo or Osaka to Okayama station where you’ll need to transfer to a JR train. You can get a direct train from here to Tokushima, or you may need to change trains at Takamatsu station. Alternatively, from Tokyo take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen to Shin-Kobe station and then catch the Airport Limousine Bus straight to Tokushima station (徳島駅前).

By bus

From Tokyo, catch an overnight bus at the Shinagawa station bus terminal to Tokushima.

If you’re coming from Osaka, you can catch the highway bus from both the OCAT bus terminal and Nankai bus terminal at Namba station, or the Hanku Sanbancho or JR Highway bus terminals at Osaka station.

By plane

Tokushima Airport is easily accessible via direct flight from Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo. From the airport, it takes about 30 minutes to reach Tokushima station by bus.

Where To Stay

JR Hotel Clement Tokushima
  • Terashimahonchonishi 1-61 Tokushima-Shi, Tokushima 770-0831
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.1 km
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Hotel Sunroute Tokushima
  • Motomachi 1-5-1 Tokushima-Shi, Tokushima 770-0834
  • 8.8/10
  • 0.1 km
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Daiwa Roynet Hotel Tokushima Ekimae
  • Terashima-Honcho-Higashi 3 Tokushima-Shi, Tokushima 770-0832
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.1 km
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Subaruyado Yoshino
  • Ichibancho 3-18 Tokushima-Shi, Tokushima 770-0833
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.2 km
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