• Kyodo

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Dozens of Japanese folk dancers will perform the traditional Awa Odori in Paris next year as part of efforts to promote Japanese culture overseas, organizers say.

It is believed to be the first planned performance in France of the weaving dance, which is native to Tokushima Prefecture.

Around 100 dancers will perform in the picturesque Place des Vosges square over two days in May 2015, the organizers said, in an announcement at the French ambassador’s residence in Tokyo.

“Awa Odori represents the Japanese national character,” said Regis Arnaud, 42, a French journalist based in Japan, who is the principal organizer. He hopes the event will give young French people a genuine taste of Japanese culture.

French Ambassador to Japan Christian Masset said he would like to see the project “foster a deeper cultural understanding between the people of both countries.”

The dance dates back 400 years, and is performed each August in Tokushima and in Tokyo’s Koenji district. It welcomes back the souls of ancestors who are believed to return temporarily during the Bon summer holiday.

The organizers said they have already raised ¥60 million from sponsors, including Japanese and French companies, which is expected to cover most of the costs of taking the performers to France.