The first and perhaps still the best festival I went to in Japan was Awa Odori. Taking place in Tokushima, this is the biggest dance festival in Japan and sees the entire city comes alive at night. The buzz starts to build in the early afternoon with beers on tap, the smell of street food wafting along the river banks and glimpses of the dancers getting ready
Before you know it the sound of drums and bells crashes out and, within what feels like just a few minutes, the streets are full of sound and colour. It is guessed that around 8000 dancers participate each year however these are heavily outnumbered by the general public who are more than just a little enthusiastic to join in. In fact, even if you`d like to just stand and watch you often have little choice about being dragged in.
It all starts whilst watching one of the many performances that break out spontaneously in the street, then all of a sudden a big smile, a come here gesture and you`re in the centre with the rest of them. This isn`t an occasion to worry about style. Just listen to the music, copy what everyone else seems to be doing, shout when shouted at and most of all enjoy yourself. There aren`t many festivals like this one and this is surely one of the best of its type.