tonight i went down to Koenji station to check out the awa odori (dance of the fool) festival. i found out about this festival by browsing through pictures of my contacts in flickr and i really liked what i saw, so i decided to go. this is the 49th awa odori celebration in Tokyo, which makes you wonder why it would get excluded from the guidebooks.
i arrived at Koenji station about 5 minutes before the start of the festival – clearly a bad idea. there were tons of people and security would not let us get off the train platform for well over 10 minutes. then, down some steps, pushing, pulling, waiting some more. insanity! but i managed to make it out of there and made my way to the street to check out the dancing. the crowd was pretty big so it was hard to really see much and take pictures… good thing i am tall with long arms!
after a while i decided to start walking to find a better spot. instead i found that Koenji is a wonderful area, with cute shops, cafe and the likes. as well, there were some street food vendors and so i decided to indulge a little. i also had a couple beers, to do like the locals. it’s great that in japan beer gardens do not exists. the entire place is a beer garden basically…!
BBQ squid! this was about the size of my hand. very yummy, but hard to eat! and only Y100!
Yakitori! (chicken on a stick, basically.) Y230, and yummy!
i walked around all night, checking out different spots, listening to the music and chanting, as well as obviously watching the dancing and the Japanese people around me. usually Japanese people are pretty reserve but it seems that all inhibitions went out of the window tonight. people were dancing, screaming, signing and all together really getting into it. when new dance groups would walk by, everyone would fan them and when drummers came by, all the ladies would flirt.
the entire evening was wonderful. i had great food and saw a great facet of Tokyo and Japanese life in general. i think that tonight was a perfect conclusion to my month-long trip here in japan, and will leave me with wonderful memories. i am really happy that stuck to my guns and checked out this festival. truly, deeply.
japan, i will miss you.