My Journey as a Flute Player in the Awa Dance Group

Japanese Traditional Dance: Music and Dancers in Sui-ren

basic information

12 Jan

What is the Kids Dance?

Kodomo-Odori: The Kid’s Dance
Kodomo means children, Odori means dance. The Ren (team) decides on which dance to learn first. Usually, the Ren (team) chooses to learn the Men’s dance first but it is still up to the Ren (team) on which dance they would prefer to study first.

What Do They Wear?
The costumes of the kids belongs to the Ren’s (Team’s) rule. For example, "Happi" and short pants. Happi is a short kimono that resembles a jacket. The girls' costume who perform the Women’s dance usually wear the women’s dance costumes. However, the color of the children's costumes sometimes vary from that and of the adults. As for Suiren, older women wears a blue costume and young girls wear a pink one.

6 Jan

What Is the Men’s Dance?

Otoko-Odori: The Men’s Dance
Otoko means men, Odori means dance. Men and women can join the Men’s dance. We can express ourselves through dance. The moves of great dancers are very smooth.

The “Otoko-Odori” that men do is sometimes aggressive, passionate, and comical. They dance gracefully. The dancers often dance with Uchiwa fans or Japanese paper lantern. The highlight of it is “Abare.” “Abare” means ramping. Abare is a dance move wherein men move in an aggressive manner that includes jumping and moving in big steps. Dancers shout aloudly during Abare. On the other hand, the “Otoko-Odori” that women do is elegant and smooth. The way to dance it is the same as that of men’s dance. Historically, women started dancing the men's dance more recently in the 400 year-history of Awa-dance.

Some Ren (Team) have their own patterns with different sequences like the womens' dance that depends on the Ren.

What Do They Wear?
The dancers wear either kimono or “Happi” and short pants. The hem of kimono is tucked up to the waist to make the Kimono shorter. “Happi” is a short kimono, just like a jacket. When a dancer wears it, a plain white fabric is wrapped around the body under the “Happi". They wear “tabi” socks. Their soles are very thick, so they can dance on the street. They put a Japanese towel (Tenugui) on their head. Sometimes, the men cover their head with it and tie its ends under their nose.

Who can join the Otoko-odori?
As for the Men's Dance, both men and women can join. Usually, there is no age limit for the dance members.

30 Dec

What Is the Women's Dance?

Onna-Odori: The Women's Dance
Onna means woman, Odori means dance. The woman's dance is similar to line dance. It involves dancers standing in one or more lines performing different choreography. The movements have some patterns with different sequences. Each Ren(group) has their own formation. It is one of the points to watch the women's dance. Their steps is small because they wear kimono. They keep holding their arms up during the dance. Women’s dance needs a lot of practice because they need to learn many choreographies.
What Do They Wear?
The women dancers wear kimonos or yukatas, the summer kimono, but the style is different than the usual kimonos and yukatas. They leave a large opening at the back of the neck of kimono. The back shot is really beautiful and elegant. They wear white arm covers to hide their skin. The undergarments used in wearing traditional Japanese kimono was used as the dancers' primary costume especially the skirt. They use a summer kimono belt where the belt is smaller than usual. They put on a rush hat and cover half of their face with it. They dance on their toes in Geta sandals, just like the ballerinas where they usually lift their toes when dancing. They need a lot of practice to perform this move with their toes.

Who Can Join the Women’s Dance?
Only Women can join the Women’s Dance. Each Ren has their own rule about age limit. For example, from 12 years old to 29 years old. Some Ren don’t have any limit. It totally depends on the Ren.





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29 Dec


Awa-Odori is one of the famous Japanese dances. It originally started from Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku Island in Japan.Tokushima was called “Awa”, so the dance seems to be named after it.
Nowadays, the Awa Dance festival is not only held in Tokushima but in many other cities as well.

The origin of Awa-Odori is not sure. There are several possible origins of it. One of them is rooted in Bon-dance. Bon is a holiday that we celebrate the return of our ancestors, like Halloween. We perform Bon-dance during the holiday. Awa-dance might originate from it. The other origin is from the celebration dance for a new Tokushima-castle. The castle was built in 1587, people in the city danced to celebrate it. The last origin came from the same source as Nho. Nho is a traditional Japanese musical that started from 14th century. This dance performed for more than 400 years.

Photo by Tokushima City Tourism Section
About the writer
Mayuko Kurosaka

She is a member of Sui-ren. She is a flutist. She's been performing for more than 6 years for the group. She was born in Kawagoe an old city in Saitama. She learned to play traditional instrument when she was a young or a kid. She works as a freelance writer.
you can join and be part of our dynamic and fun group. You are very much welcome to join, so don't hesitate!

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