Photo By: Reina Ogawa
Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tokyo
Population
12,059,237

Koenji Awa Odori Festival

Bright costumes, thousands of dance moves and bone-rattling drums will leave you in a trance.

Colorful dancers with onlookers lining the streets for one of Tokyo’s biggest summer events where visitors soak up Japanese festival culture. The history of the Awa dance dates back more than 400 years, and the Koenji Awa Odori Festival has been celebrated for more than 60 years.

It’s estimated to draw over 1 million attendees over its two days on the last weekend in August. Each day starting from 5 p.m., there is a three-hour parade of rhythmic music and dance involving over 10,000 dancers, including some adorable children’s groups.

Photo by: Reina Ogawa Dancers in action!

The performers start simultaneously around the route, so you don’t need to wait for the parade to reach you. Each dance group has its own unique style, chanting, music and matching yukatas, and after about an hour you will have seen a decent representation. The graceful dance of the women with their precision hand and foot movements is matched by the more wild and energetic dance of the men.

Don’t let the high participation figures scare you away; the course is spread out over almost five kilometers, so we didn’t find it too crowded. It is suggested to arrive at least two hours before the start of the parade and do like the locals, claim your viewing spot.

The parade is free to view, and a map of parade route (Japanese only) is available here.

About Koenji

The little neighborhood of Koenji is just 10 minutes northwest of Shinjuku and has a nice mix of narrow shopping streets surrounded by residential housing. The festival is in the area immediately surrounding the JR station, so there is no guesswork once you exit the platform. The town starts bustling fairly early on, with locals staking out their favorite viewing spots and yakitori grills firing up hours before the actual parade begins.

For more festivities, see our festivals section.

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Things To Know

Where & When

Typically the last weekend in August. 5-8 p.m. Address: Koenji Minami 2-, 3-, and 4-chome, and Koenji Kita 2- and 3-chome, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.

2018

This year’s event will be Aug. 25-26.

How To Get There

Address

3 Chome-20-9 Kōenjikita, Suginami-ku, Tōkyō-to 166-0002, Japan

By train

Take the JR Chuo or JR Chuo Sobu lines to JR Koenji station.

The parade route follows along the shopping streets north and south of JR Koenji Station on the JR Chuo line.  The playground mentioned above is at 3-20-9 Koenji Kita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo (see map above).

 

Where To Stay

Artist Hotel - BnA HOTEL Koenji
  • 2-4-7 Koenjikita, Suginami Suginami-Ku, Tokyo 166-0003
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.2 km
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Apartment in Tokyo 867
  • Suginami-Ku, Tokyo 166-0002
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.3 km
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GrapeHouse Koenji
  • Yamato-cho 3-1-5 Nakano-Ku, Tokyo 165-0034
  • 9.1/10
  • 0.3 km
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Nakano Guest House
  • 1-63-9 Nakano-Ku, Tokyo 165-0034
  • 0.4 km
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