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Learning about Japanese culture at Azabu-Juban festival

After dark the famous Azabu-Juban summer festival becomes more crowded and much more interesting. I’m not talking food stalls now. Think an improvised fashion show with yukata, evening gowns and even cosplay costumes! I even saw a guy dressed up as Dracula at Starbucks in Roppongi Hills. It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to take nice photos of the yukata in the dark streets of Azabu-Juban. But this exhibition was also nice!

Little Japanese girls and boys wearing colorful yukata are so cute! Yukata is a casual summer kimono, worn to a number of outdoor summer activities such as watching of fireworks and bon-odori festivals.

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Several people in traditional Japanese costumes performed on a movable stage next to Azabu Inari shrine. There were traditional dances with folk music, and even one modern dance performance with the ubiquitous «James Bond theme».

The traditional Lion (Shishi-Mai) dance was performed too. This dance was imported from China and is common at many cultural and religious events such as New Year, Obon etc. It is not to be confused with the Chinese Dragon dance, because the dragon is held on poles and we can easily see the performer’s faces (and a dragon needs many people). The Japanese lion has a wooden, lacquered head, and a green cloth-body. Before finishing the dance, the lion always “bites” the heads off several people. It is believed that it will bring good luck to them.

At Roppongi Hills Arena people could enjoy the annual Obon dancing with Ropponjin Ondo – a unique dance of Roppongi workers.

Information

Azabu-Juban summer festival
Address: Tokyo, Minato, Azabu-Juban
Access: a short walk from Azabu-Juban station.
Open: 9 PM – 5 PM (August, 22-23)
Distance from airport: About 18 km from Haneda Airport, 72 km from Narita Airport.

Article by Olga Kaneda

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