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Things to do / Traditional festivals

Tokushima Awa Odori

NOTE: The events on Aug. 14 and 15 have been canceled due to a tropical storm.

Music festivals like Fuji Rock and Rock in Japan may draw a lot of attention as splashy summer events with more than 100,000 people attending each year, but diving into the traditional side of Japan is just as cool.

This weekend, the folk dances of Awa Province (now Tokushima Prefecture), known as Awa odori, will be beautifully demonstrated by performers in traditional summer outfits such as happi coats and yukata (light cotton kimono). The dance festival will feature more than 800 ren (groups of dancers) near Shinmachi River in the city of Tokushima, and is expected to attract more than a million visitors from Aug. 12 to 15.

The festival is open to the public for free, but be prepared to face the crowds. If you prefer a more comfortable vantage point, you can secure reserved seats at Awagin Hall, Minamiuchimachi or three other areas. The reserved locations promise a fine view of the vibrant processions.

In addition to the Awa odori performances, each day's proceedings will be capped off with so odori, an event in which around 1,000 entertainers from 14 groups will dance together. (Yuki Yamauchi)

Pre-event on Aug. 11. Activities might be canceled in the case of bad weather.